Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce)(Amendment) Act 2017 comes into force
18 December 2018
The Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce)(Amendment) Act 2017 came into force on 15 December 2018.
The main amendments made to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (“Principal Act”) are as follows –
Section 12 of the Principal Act previously allows a person who has not attained the age of twenty-one to marry if he or she obtains the written consent (a) of his or her father; or (b) if the person is illegitimate or his or her father is dead, of his or her mother; or (c) if the person is an adopted child, of his or her adopted father, or if the adopted father is dead, of his or her adopted mother.
This section is now amended so that such a person may marry if he or she obtains the written consent (a) of his or her father or mother; or (b) if the person is illegitimate, of his or her mother; or (c) if the person is an adopted child, of his or her adopted father or adopted mother.
Section 51 of the Principal Act has been amended to allow either party, or both parties, to a marriage to petition for a divorce where one of them has converted to Islam. Prior to this amendment, only the non-converting spouse could petition for a divorce;
A new section 51A to the Principal Act provides that where the converted spouse dies before the non-Muslim marriage is dissolved, the surviving spouse, the surviving children of a marriage and the parents of the deceased converted spouse will be entitled to participate in the distribution of the matrimonial assets of the deceased. The new section also sets out the factors which the court is to take into account when making the distribution;
Section 76 of the Principal Act, which confers power on the Court to order the division of matrimonial assets when granting a divorce or judicial separation, has been amended as follows –
The court’s power to order distribution of matrimonial assets is no longer confined to assets acquired by the joint efforts of the parties during the marriage but has been extended to all assets acquired during the marriage; and
The court may now consider two additional factors when it exercises its power under this section, namely the duration of the marriage and the extent of contribution by each party in payment of expenses for the benefit of the family.
- Section 95 of the Principal Act has been amended to make it clear that in the case of an order for maintenance or custody of a child, the duration of such order with regard to a child who is pursuing further or higher education will cease only when the child completes such further education or training (unless the order expressly provides for a shorter duration).
At the same time that the Amendment Act came into force, the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Rules 1982 were amended by the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce)(Amendment) Rules 2018 principally to introduce new statutory forms.