Can open relationships now be legally recognised?

Unpacking the truth about mistresses and premarital agreements in Malaysia.

19 Apr 2024 04:32pm
Kuala Lumpur High Court has ruled that agreements permitting non-Muslim husbands to maintain mistresses are legal. - FILE PIX
Kuala Lumpur High Court has ruled that agreements permitting non-Muslim husbands to maintain mistresses are legal. - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM – Remember those frantic scenes in Malaysian dramas where the wife discovers her husband's secret mistress, and the world goes into emotional meltdown?

However, there's talk in Malaysia suggesting that husbands can legally have mistresses as long as there’s mutual agreement.

According to the Kuala Lumpur court ruling, apparently yes.

A recent KL court ruling said it's been established that non-Muslim husbands in Malaysia can legally maintain mistresses as long as there is a formal agreement and no violation of any law.

According to the Online News Portal FMT, from the case of Divorce Petition No: WA-33-30-01/2021, where a wife named HLC filed for divorce after her husband, identified as PTL, entered into an agreement to keep a mistress during their marriage.

Justice Evrol Mariette Peters presided over the case, highlighting that the wife willingly entered into the agreement with her husband shortly after their marriage in August 1997.

The agreement permitted the husband, a prosperous business tycoon, to maintain a mistress throughout their marriage, in accordance with Section 56 of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976.

HLC initially contested the agreement's enforceability, alleging ignorance and duress during its signing.

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However, the court dismissed her argument, citing her initials on every page and the presence of witnesses during the agreement's signing.

The court stressed that a wife who consents to her husband's infidelity cannot later claim adultery as the cause of marital breakdown.

The case revealed that HLC had a child from a previous marriage and later had five children with PTL.

HLC filed for divorce in October 2020, citing her husband's adultery and unreasonable behavior as reasons for departure.

In the divorce settlement, Peters ordered the husband to pay the wife RM10,000 for spousal maintenance and another RM6,000 for the maintenance of two of their children.

The judge also made orders distributing the couple's matrimonial assets including immovable properties, vehicles, money, and shares in companies.

However, the claim for damages against the co-respondent was dismissed due to insufficient evidence of adultery.

Representing the wife were lawyers M Kamalam and Eugene Teo, while Lee Sok Wah and Nur Amira represented the husband.

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