Divorce: Entitlements & Misconceptions

Following from our last post on divorce procedures, here is a brief overview on entitlements and misconceptions about divorce.


Image: Flickr / Shawn Liu
Image: Flickr / Shawn Liu



In a joint petition divorce, both of you can make arrangements as to alimony/maintenance, custody of the child and assets such as matrimonial property, finances etc. If you don’t mutually agree to the distribution of assets with your spouse during the divorce process, the court has the power to distribute them as it sees fit. This is especially the case in unilateral divorces. Assets may not be split equally between spouses during distribution. Usually, the court will divide your assets based on how much contribution either spouse has made towards it.


Generally custody is given to the mother if the child is below 7 years old but either spouse can apply for custodianship. In giving custody however, the court always considers what’s best for the child, the wishes of the parents and the wishes of the child if she/he is able to voice her/his independent opinion. For example, if the court deems a sick mother to be unfit to raise her children, custody may be awarded to the father.

Image: Flickr / Kristine Alexanderson
Image: Flickr / Kristine Alexanderson



One of the common misconceptions about divorce is that spouses must live separately for a minimum period of two years before they can file for divorce. There are actually no legal requirements in this area – you can live with your spouse before, during and after the divorce. It’s not necessary to be separated prior to filing your petition.

Although the court doesn’t usually grant divorces to couples who have been married for less than two years but there have been exceptions. It’s best to consult a lawyer if you’re not sure. Some people assume that if they live apart from their spouses for two years, they are “automatically divorced” but in the eyes of the law, “automatic divorce” doesn’t exist. They would still have to file a divorce petition and go through the court procedures. However, the two year separation period can be one of the major grounds for divorce.


The entire divorce process should be assisted by your lawyer and of course, their services are rarely free. In a joint petition, both spouses can share the legal fee or agree to pay separately usually in the region of RM5,000.00 to RM8,000.00 excluding disbursements and GST but in a single petition, both must pay their respectively legal fees separately

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Disclaimer: The content provided on this website does not constitute legal advice but are for general informational purposes only. It may not be the most up-to-date legal information after the published date. To seek professional legal advice, please check with your lawyer.