Child Custody in a Divorce Case in Indonesia

Monday, 19 March 2018 10:04

Child custody in Indonesia is one of the consequences of a divorce between a husband and a wife, Divorce may be the solution for both of you. It may be your best way out, but the law suggets it can only be used as a last resort. It means both of you should work hard to keep your marrriage intact. In Indonesia, you should have enough reason to dissolve your marriage. You just can’t say: “I have enough of you! Let’s get divorce!” They won’t allow you to get divorce on this ground. Article 39 (2) of the Marriage Law stipulated that in order to get a divorce, both husband and wife must have enough reason that they will not be able to live in harmony.

There are legal grounds of filing for divorce that every divorce lawyer in Indonesia has to advise his clients with, and they have been regulated in the Marriage Law, which are, in the event one of the parties:

  1. has committed adultery, is an alcoholic, is addicted to drugs, is a gambler or exhibits other vices which are difficult to cure;
  2. has left the other spouse for two consecutive years, without consent and without legitimate reasons or the absence of reasons beyond his control;
  3. has been sentenced to imprisonment for five (5) consecutive years or a longer period;
  4. has resorted to cruelty or severe ill treatment, endangering the life of the other spouse;
  5. has developed a disability or disease, preventing from fulfilling the duties of husband or wife; or
  6. has irreconcilable differences.

For couples married in Moslem ceremony, Article 166 of Islamic Compilation Law added two more legal ground to get divorce. They are:  a. You may get divorve in the event a husband broke his taklik talak. It’s a marriage vow soon after the Moslem couples performed the marriage. If you forget about it, you may want to check the back page of your marriage book; b. Apostate.  In the event your spouse convert back to his/her previous belief, other than Islam. The above legal grounds are optional. I mean, your divorce case doesn’t have to meet all of the legal grounds. You just have to include ome of them, and supply two witnesses to take the stand at the court room. 

As for the child custody, the decision follows after the marriage has been dissolved. The custody of a child under the age of 12 belongs to the mother. Article 105 of Islamic Compilation Law imposed that a child aged 12 (twelve) has a freedom to choose between its mother or father. They tend to give the custody to the mother because they think women is the best figure to nurture the child. They are more compassionate than men. They think women can do it better than men. In short, they think the Islamic Compilation Law has maternal preference. It's also has sole custody principle that allow one parent to be a custody holder, and the other parent is a non-custody parent. But, in the field of practice those things are not always happen. They don't always do their jobs. They can be either mentally unstable, committing adultery, leaving the child at home during night time to meet friends, hang out and partying all night, or even jeopardizing the child's well-being. Those are the circumstances where you as the father may take over the custody of your child. You can’t just say that you’re financially better than your wife, and you think you deserve the custody. Our Marriage Law considered husband is a bread maker in the family. You have the obligation to support your children. This is the universal value every where, I supposed.

The ultimate consideration of having a child custody is for the best interests of the child. It's imposed by the 2002 Child Protection Law. The judges assess and measure your ability in providing what’s best for your child. Factors included in the assessments are physical and mental health, intellectuality, independence, and utmost good faith in allowing his/her ex-spouse to have parenting and visitation. In another words, you still need to talk to you ex-spouse even though you are no longer married to each other. This is for the best interests of the child. The one that meets the requirements is the most eligible to serve as custody holder of the child.

I would like to bring your attention to the court verdict number 110K/AG/2007 issued by the Supreme Court in December 2007. The holding from the court was, among others, the ultimate consideration of having child custody (Hadhanah in Arabic term) is for the best interests of the child, not merely the most normatively entitled to. The court further stipulated that even though the child was only 7 (seven) years, and the mother frequently travelling overseas and leave the child all alone by herself, while the father actually always be there for the child giving her steady and stable life, so therefore they found the father was entitled to the custody of the child. This is one of the most brilliant court's products in Indonesia, and considered as "jeopardizing" the maternal preference since the Islamic Compilation Law enacted in 1991. But I mean, apart from that, you know, you can really lose your rights in getting child custody, even though the law prefers you due to gender preference. As parents, I believe we must put ourselves behind the children's interests and put them as our priority in life. I am sure we're all love our children so very much. 

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


Our thanks to Asep Wijaya, Managing Director of Wijaya & Co for sharing this information with us!


The above is provided for informational purposes only and is NOT to be relied upon as legal advice. This information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney and should not be construed as a solicitation. No attorney-client relationship is established by use of information found within this article nor in this website.


My name is Asep Wijaya. I am an attorney. This article is about my works in the field of law I have been doing regarding legal issues in international civil law in Indonesia. You may use my articles without permission as long as you mention my name, the article tile, and our website address.

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