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Declaration Orders - Will my divorce which I obtained overseas be recognized in Malaysia?

In today’s multi-cultural and mobile society, it is not unusual for Malaysian couples to move abroad and enter into marriages with non-Malaysians. When Malaysians live overseas, they are under an obligation to register their marriage with the consulate or embassy to record the marriage. Thus, when a divorce is obtained overseas, the records in Malaysia should also be updated. The short answer to the question ‘can my (foreign obtained) divorce be recognised in Malaysia?’ is yes. It should be noted that the foreign obtained divorce has to be one where the decree absolute has already been granted (i.e. it cannot simply be a decree nisi or an interim order). However, recognition of its validity is not automatic. Thus, the next question is ‘how can I get my (foreign) divorce recognised in Malaysia’?

Where a marriage which has been recognised by Malaysian laws is dissolved overseas, the parties should seek a declaration order from a Malaysian court to recognise the validity of that divorce, and to update the records at the National Registration Department (“NRD”) (in Malay known as “Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara” a.k.a “JPN”) accordingly.

The NRD/JPN will not be able to update the marital status of the parties to reflect that they are now ‘single’ following the divorce order obtained overseas until a Malaysian court has issued an order recognising the divorce as valid. This order is known as a ‘declaration order’. Under such an order, a Malaysian court will not issue a divorce order, it will simply recognise the validity of the divorce obtained overseas. Therefore, it is not necessary to go through or negotiate the terms of divorce again.

After the declaration order is obtained, either party may update the NRD’s records by providing the NRD with a copy of the declaration order sealed by the court together with the other relevant documents such as a copy of the Malaysian marriage certificate.

If the Malaysian NRD’s records are not updated, parties (specifically the Malaysian party) may find it difficult to record a subsequent marriage with the Malaysian authorities as the Malaysian records would still reflect his or her marital status as ‘married’.

*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice. If you are interested in obtaining a declaration order, please reach out to us for a friendly consultation.

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*This article will explore the key features and advantages of a joint petition divorce in Malaysia. Further information on divorces in Malaysia can be found in our article here. In Malaysia, divorces