When You Got Divorced in Indonesia and Thought Life Was Over: Here’s What You Wish You’d Known

Monday, 08 January 2024 08:08 WIB

Expats Divorce: The Basics

Going through a divorce in a foreign country can be an extremely challenging journey, and this is particularly true for expats living and working in Indonesia. Not only do you grapple with emotional stress and cultural differences, but you also have to navigate the complexities of local legal systems. 

When expats find themselves navigating the complex world of divorce in a foreign land like Indonesia, it can all seem pretty overwhelming. If you're an expat couple who tied the knot abroad and are now considering getting divorced in Indonesia, here are some key points that you should be aware of.

First thing's first, it's important to understand that in Indonesia, marital matters are governed by the law where the marriage took place. This means that if your marriage was solemnized abroad, foreign family laws may apply. Yet, when it comes to divorce, the Indonesian courts often reference their local laws, especially when both parties are residing in Indonesia at the time of the divorce.

Legal Ground

The laws governing marriages and divorces involving foreigners living in Indonesia are laid out in the 1974 Marriage Law and the 1975 Government Regulation. According to these regulations, a foreign couple residing in Indonesia has the right to divorce if they've complied with both Indonesian law and the legal regulations of their home country. 

Keep in mind, however, that the legal process can be more complicated if your marriage took place outside of Indonesia. Both parties involved need to have a legitimate reason for the divorce, which is determined by the court. This could include infidelity, physical or emotional abuse, desertion, or long-term disputes that can't be resolved.

According to Article 39 of the 1974 Marriage Law, a divorce may be granted on the following grounds:

  1. One of the spouses commits adultery or becomes an alcohol addict, drug addict, or gambler, which is difficult to cure.
  2. One of the spouses leaves the other for two consecutive years without valid permission or any clear reason despite being requested to return by the deserted spouse.
  3. One of the spouses receives a five-year or longer prison sentence after marriage.
  4. One of the spouses commits cruelty or serious harm that endangers the other spouse.
  5. Both spouses cannot live in harmony within the household.

If you're considering divorce as an expatriate in Indonesia, you must meet one of these criteria.

Child Custody and Property Division

When it comes to child custody and property division, things can get a little more complicated. According to Indonesian law, children under the age of twelve generally remain under the custody of the mother, whereas children over twelve can choose who they wish to live with. 

As far as property goes, it's divided according to the matrimonial property agreement. If there isn't one, then the property is usually divided equally.

Possible Outcomes

As daunting as it sounds, with the legal assistance of Wijaya & Co., many expats have successfully navigated this process. Some even recount that the experience, albeit painful, was educational and reshaped their perspectives. Despite the rollercoaster ride that is divorce, it's essential to remember that life doesn't end here. It's a transition phase, which may eventually lead to personal growth, self-discovery, and new beginnings.

Know that the process might be draining both emotionally and financially. It pays to be well-prepared; understand your rights, jot down key facts about your situation, gather necessary documents, and find reliable legal assistance with unwavering experience like Wijaya & Co. 

Getting divorced in Indonesia as an expat couple with foreign nationalities may seem like an uphill task. Yet, with preparedness, right information and legal support like Wijaya & Co, you can make it through. After all, every end implies a new beginning.

My name is Asep Wijaya. Thank you for reading my posts!

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