By Archana Patrick
The recent development in Malaysian law on civil marriages by virtue of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act A1546) which came into force on Dec 15, 2018 heralds a new milestone in children and women’s rights.
The significant legal amendments relate to two key areas in matrimonial disputes, namely, child support and the division of matrimonial assets in divorce proceedings.
By virtue of section 7 of the Act which amends section 95 of the principal Act (ie the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (Act 164)), divorced fathers are now required to pay child support until the “completion of further or higher education or training” of their children.
In relation to division of matrimonial assets in divorce proceedings, section 6 of the amendment Act which amends section 76 of the principal Act, now acknowledges the contribution of mothers to “the welfare of the family by looking after the home or caring for the family”.
In addition, the courts will also now consider the “duration of the marriage” in granting the order for the division of matrimonial assets.
Undoubtedly, these significant amendments are welcomed in easing the burden of many divorced mothers.
Recently family law practitioner Honey Tan was quoted as saying in Malaysiakini that “it was a big problem for many mothers who got custody of their children. The fathers refused to pay maintenance after their child turned 18 years old”.
Another icing on the cake brought about by the amendment Act is its retrospective effect which simply means that all cases of fathers refusing to pay for child support must now be read in light of the amended section 95 including cases before the amendment came into operation!
“What a wonderful Christmas present, and a great way to end an otherwise dismal 2018 for child rights,” the family law practitioner exclaimed.