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Malaysia - Marriage and Divorce

There are procedures for getting married in Malaysia and as a multi-cultural society, marriage can take place in a number of different venues.

Church Wedding

Foreigners who want to get married in their respective churches can do so. All marriages will be undertaken as per the religious practices of that church. The marriage does still have to be entered into the Registrar of Marriages and the marriage ceremony has to be conducted by a registered minister or solemniser of the Registrar of Marriages. A marriage can take place as a civil ceremony at the registrar offices in the district you live and then you can have a blessing and the marriage recognized at a religious unit of your choice.

There are legal requirements before a marriage can take place in Malaysia and all of the following conditions must be met.

- Both parties have to be resident in the district for a period of seven days or more
- An application for marriage has to be completed by both parties in front of the registrar. If both parties live in the same district then one form has to be completed. If one of the people to be married lives in a different district then they will have to apply to their district. Both parties have to sign the form
- Copies of passport and passport sized photographs
- Copy of single status from your home country – i.e. divorce absolute
- If the applicant is between the ages of 16-21 then a birth certificate needs to be presented
- If the applicant is a widow/er then a copy of the spouse’s death certificate
- Fee

The most common ceremonies for marriage in a religious setting in Malaysia are Christian marriages or Buddhist marriages. The fee for the wedding must be paid to the solemniser on the day of the ceremony.

Civil Ceremonies in the Register Offices

All of these documents apply for a registrar marriage ceremony and in a religious setting. You will also need to bring identification of your home country to the actual ceremony.

After completing the form of application, the marriage must take place within six months of the date of completion. The notification of marriage will be posted to the public for a three-week period. The marriage can take place after that three-week period and before the six-month anniversary of the date of the application. There is a fee to be paid for the registration and the ceremony itself.


A divorce petition may be presented providing the following conditions have been met:

- The marriage must have been registered in the Registrar of Marriages
- Both parties must be domiciled in Malaysia
- Divorce will not be granted for marriages under two years old apart from under exceptional circumstances
- Proof of the marriage breakdown – adultery, unreasonable behaviour, living apart for more than two years.

The marriage difficulties must also have been placed in writing to the Registrar of Marriages where a conciliatory body must have noted that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

There are exceptions to the above rule such as abandonment, mental illness, living abroad and unlikely to return to Malaysia. If your spouse has been imprisoned for more than five years – this is an exemption to the above rule also.

If there is a contest to the petition by a spouse then this will be presented to the Court Competent and the judge will decide whether the petitioner has a case. In the case of mutual consent, the divorce will be granted.

A petition for divorce may be presented if a spouse has converted to Islam as the marriage would be considered illegal. The two-years does not apply if conversion to Islam has been proved and three months since the conversion has applied.

A divorce can only be granted in Malaysia if the marriage took place in Malaysia. A wife can apply for divorce if any of the above applies.

Marriage and divorce has an English element to the process and the time for a divorce depends on if the petition is contested. Muslim marriages are managed under Islamic law. Any other marriage carried out in Malaysia will be under Malaysian law.

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