New hiwalah order ensures men pay spousal support

12 Dec 2021 01:58pm

SHAH ALAM - The government’s decision to implement the hiwalah order will give new hope to women and children affected by men who refuse to provide spousal support.

Based on the statistics from Family Support Division, Syariah Judiciary Department, the total alimony requests submitted by wives and children is 5,964 cases between 2017 to October 2021.

From 5,964, cases submitted by children within the five years are 4,529 cases. For 2021 alone, a total of 493 maintenance cases were recorded until October.

Its director-general Datuk Dr Mohd Na’im Mokhtar said other than alimony for children, the department also handled cases involving iddah (period after death of husband or divorce) and mut’ah (form of contract marriage) claims.

“Within five years, the total of numbers of alimony cases is 252 cases, iddah is 520 cases and mut’ah with 663 cases.

“Selangor recorded the highest number of alimony arrears with 150 cases this year.

“However, the statistics are based on complaints received and does not reflect the overall situation happening in the state,” he told Sinar Premium.

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The government made amendments to Schedule 11 of the Financial Service Act 2013, Islamic Financial Service Act 2013 and Financial Development Institution Act 2002 and were gazetted on Feb 10 this year.

Bank accounts of husband or former husbands who refuse to pay alimony will be barred.

He noted that the dereliction of duty by husbands in providing financial support was among the biggest cause of divorce in the country.

Mohd Na’im, who is also Chief Syairah Judge, revealed that there were cases where husbands had not paid alimony for more than 10 years, while most cases are only known by the court after the couple is divorced and when the ex-wife claimed the maintenance arrears.

“Most cases saw the husband’s negligence in providing financial support to the wife.

“The amount of payments is decided by the Syairah court after taking into consideration the needs of the children and capabilities of the father.

“There is a case where the husband has never provided financial support to the ex-wife throughout their marriage and later did not pay alimony even after the court decided he needed to pay her RM300 monthly,” he said.

Among excuses provided by husbands and ex-husbands are that the alimony was costly and could not afford it, and that they had too many debt and commitments, said Mohd Nai’m.

He added there were also men who claimed both husband and wife agreed to bear the cost of necessities together throughout their marriage thus they did not have to pay alimony.

As for children alimony cases, Mohd Na’im said majority of the excuses given was because the ex-wife prohibited them from seeing the kids.

Mohd Na’im said lack of evidence and knowledge on rights and procedure had contributed to wives not requesting for alimony.

This, he said, led to many deciding not to be bothered about making claims in court.

He said there were also instances where wives could not afford to come forward and register their cases.

“Some ex-wives were not able to claim alimony because they lacked documentary evidence to produce in court.

“Proof here could be as simple receipts of purchases. But no one really expects to be separated so they don’t keep those things.

“Now, with the help of the Family Supports Division, it will at least ease their affairs in making the alimony claims through the legal services provided.

“Ex-wives who do not have financial means to proceed with court cases can get legal services from the division or Legal Aid Department for free.

“Legal Aid Department provides consultations on Syairah laws, legal service in trials at the Syairah court under its jurisdictions and conducts mediation to resolves disputes peacefully and voluntarily,” he said.

Mohd Na’im said they have received good feedback following amendments made.

He said ex-wives and single mothers have welcomed this move especially in regards to the freezing of their former spouse’s bank accounts.

He added that civil society groups and Malaysians in general has also voiced out their support on this.