In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email [email protected] if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here. This article was previously published in LoyarBurok’s monthly column, “The Monkeysuit Protocol” in August Man magazine’s December 2011 issue.
Falling in love was easy. The sky was azure-blue. The stars were aligned. Sweet-serenading K-pop boy-bands were aplenty. Tying the knot seemed the most natural step to take and in the first year, it seemed also that nothing could tear you apart. Not even a 200-pound mother-in-law with chronic halitosis. Then Qiu Qiu bunny got ambitious. And Ah Tau, your Boss, amorous.
It began with getting into Ah Tau’s good books. He was impressed by how timely you paid your protection fees for your ‘siew pau’ stall. By the money-laundering opportunities you introduced him to. Soon you were skipping up the ‘ma-chai’ ladder like a springbok and receiving gifts like a kept mistress. Only, the mistress Ah Tau kept was your very own Qiu Qiu bunny. Sweet Qiu Qiu who, incidentally, had also started siphoning profits from your business into her bank account for some half-baked fish spa venture. Something had to be done. You had to put a full stop to this farce. And it had to be Divorce with a capital D.
DIVORCE AIN’T PRETTY, BOBBY
While divorce isn’t a game, it can be a battle. And without the right kind of strategy, you could end up in the courtroom with a peashooter while Qiu Qiu brandished her bazooka. Fortunately, you have a late Grand Uncle who used to be a renowned divorce lawyer. So great was he that, according to rumour, he could split the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in H2O just by thinking about it. This was, of course, before he slipped over a technical in a highly publicised case, broke his ego, and decided to dive off the Penang Bridge.
Through ‘GhostRadar’, you manage to locate him at a karaoke joint and summon him for some timely advice. What you want is might, he says. But not in the manner your caveman brain imagines. “Forget the ‘parang’, Bobby, because all you’ll get with that kind of tactic is a toilet seat and a host of assault charges, while Qiu Qiu mambos away with your million dollar house, your kid and ½ your ‘siew pau’ earnings.” He cautions, reminding you that you have a teenage son called Harry you’re likely to lose since he’s a confirmed Mummy’s Boy. “What you need to do is enter court armed with knowledge and your rights.“
IT’S A TWO-WAY TANGO, BOBBY
Getting a divorce is like getting married all over again. You can propose and if your spouse says yes, then you’ve got an easy ‘Dissolution by Mutual Consent’. But if Qiu Qiu says no, then you’ve essentially been served a tiresome ‘Contested Divorce’. In this case, your happy ending depends on the strength of your case, the Court, and luck.
That’s not all. To be able to initiate the divorce process, you need to have been married for 2 years. Think you’re going to be poisoned before that? Petition away but note that sessions for reconciliation will be mandatory to determine if your marriage is indeed one sandwich short of a picnic.
Efforts of Reconciliation: The Lawyer Speaketh
By law, the Courts won’t entertain any petition for divorce if the couple has been married for less than 2 years except in exceptional circumstances or where there’s hardship suffered by the applicant for the divorce.
In such cases, the Court will always give consideration to the interests of kids from the marriage and also the possibility of reconciliation between you and your spouse.
In short, the Court will want a confirmation from an approved reconciliation body that you and your wife have tried to reconcile but failed.
KNOW HOW TO FIGHT A CONTESTED PETITION, BOBBY?
So, you want out but Qiu Qiu wants to keep her claws on you just for kicks. What do you do? Simple. Prove that your marriage has broken down irretrievably as required by Section 54 of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976. For example:
1) Your other half is committing adultery and Guilt seems to be on permanent holiday.
2) Your other half is torture to live with and to continue on would be a punishment more cruel than the holocaust and cold war combined.
3) You’ve lived apart or been deserted for two years during which time you peed on yourself, burnt your meals, and lost your moral compass forever.
Terms of Divorce: The Lawyer Speaketh
There are 2 ways essentially, to get a divorce. ‘Dissolution by Mutual Consent’ is the easier way where both husband and wife can agree to the terms of their divorce i.e the provision of financial maintenance by the husband to the wife, the splitting of parental support, care and custody of the kids plus the division of matrimonial property. This settlement’s quick and finalised within 3 months with the Court’s issue of a decree absolute.
The other way necessarily involves the airing of your dirty laundry in public. A’Contested Divorce’ is messy, protracted and expensive. Either one can petition the Court for a divorce on the ground that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The Court will embark on a fault-finding quest to ascertain the breakdown and if it’s just and reasonable to do so, decree that the marriage is dissolved.
Where kids are involved, the Court’s paramount consideration will be their welfare. And there’s a presumption that those under the age of 18 are best left in the care of their mother. It’s for the husband who opposes this to show evidence to the contrary.
COMPLICATED? TRY A MUSLIM DIVORCE, BOBBY
“If you think your predicament is prickly, try marrying Siti Nurhaliza and divorcing her.” Grand Uncle Kong chuckles. According to the Muslim-convert who was once betrothed to an ex-poco-poco dancer, trouble starts with the stuffy Syariah Court having jurisdiction over such cases, not the nice, sleepy lads at Civil Courts. Then there’s the illusion that Muslim men have absolute powers over their women. “Chant the 3 talaq – which is really saying ‘I divorce you’ out loud 3 times – and it’s official: you’re a free man. Simple, right?” he snickers. “But remember – women have a few tricks up their sleeves, too.”
You see, Muslim women have 3 options to choose from if they want to shoo off their hopeless-‘cengkih’-smoking-husbands:
(1) Divorce by Redemption (‘tebus talaq’)
Initiated by the wifey who offers to return her ‘mahr’ (amount of money paid by the groom to the bride during marriage) or pay her hubby an agreed sum in return of him agreeing to a get lost and stay lost.
(2) Ta’liq Divorce
In this case, wifey manages to prove to Court, through witnesses and an oath, that hubby has broken the conditions of marriage (i.e. failed to provide upkeep, constantly M.I.A, prone to chair-throwing and other forms of violence) which is crucial for the Court to decide in her favour.
This simply equates to the dissolution of a marriage. The wifey can invoke this if hubby does not meet certain expectations such as:
a) He treats you like a wild animal (the beast!)
b) He can’t get it up (the druggie!)
c) He has STD (the philanderer!)
d) He doesn’t give you money (the stingy-pot!)
Grand Uncle Kong doesn’t mention which option his ex-wife picked to cut him off. But memories of him in leopard print silk shirts and constantly scratching his crotch all but point to the ‘Fasakh’.
Conversion to Islam: The Lawyer Speaketh
Where one party converts to Islam, the other party who hasn’t may apply to Court for divorce provided that the application is filed not less than 3 months from the date of conversion. You don’t have to be married for at last 2 years to apply on this ground.
GO GET HER, BOBBY
You’re stoked now. You’re convinced you need to haul bunny ass. And that’s why you can tell Grand Uncle Kong about the hidden camera in your bedroom that Qiu Qiu has no clue about. That’s right. Her dalliances with Ah Tau were being recorded. Because if there was one way to sink Qiu Qiu with adultery and boost business at the same time, it was to peddle ‘siew paus’ with free giveaway porn.
Adultery Pays: The Lawyer Speaketh
If the party applying for divorce makes an allegation of adultery on the part of the spouse, the alleged adulterer or adulteress shall be made a party to the proceedings. The Court, if satisfied at the end of the case that adultery has been proven, shall order the guilty party to cough up some compensation to the divorce applicant.
“Any plans to marry again?” Grand Uncle Kong asks. You blink at the question like you’ve just heard Andrea Bocelli spitting out some gangsta rap. “I haven’t thought about it, Uncle.” But deep down, you already know the answer. Women and Business don’t mix. You’ve got revenge to orchestrate – more rungs to skip and a big old stinking Boss to topple. And you’re going to do it all with your brain, not your crotch.
LIBERAVI ANIMAM MEAM