For those considering marriage here … -marriage/

Indonesia's Constitutional Court says no to interfaith marriage

A case brought to the CC was rejected so the laws regarding same-religion marriage stay in place. The upshot is, if you want to marry here, you must be of the same faith as your partner.

Of course it's perfectly legal for expats to convert for marriage but take no part in religion. It's unlikely to be an issue at all with the possible exception of friction within the marriage if your spouse gets serious about their faith and demands you become active.

It happens.

As you point out Fred, we've all been living with this since the first expat married an Indonesian.  And of course, this applies to all the religions that are recognized here despite the foreign press doing their best to make this into a "Muslim thing."  Muslim, Christian, Hindu or all applies equally, and of course, it also applies to marriages among Indonesians. 

During my many years living here, I've known a number of couples who have sadly gotten divorced and that includes Indonesian/Indonesian as well as Indonesian/Other.  I can't recall one instance where that divorce was due to one of the spouses pressuring the other to get "serious" about their "new" religion.  On the other hand I have known, and still know some couples where one of the spouses continues to practice the religion that they converted from.  In Bali it is not all that unusual to find families where most members of that family practice Agama Hindu while others practice something else. I am unaware of any houses of worship or places of ceremony where participants are required to produce their ID or proof of their religion in order to participate or simply observe. 

Do you see this long standing trend changing? 

I am going through a situation at the moment regarding my relationship with an Balinese girlfriend. I was hoping someone may be able to clear up something.

My girlfriend is Balinese. The family is not religious but enjoys a high class. We are talking about marriage and there seems to be one very big issue. I am divorced. I understand that divorce is not recognized in Hinduism so this is definitely an issue.

What I am told is that she loses status and the marriage would be a blight on the family. So if we are to marry, the family will lose respect, she can no longer pray at the temple with her family (maybe only at funerals), she may be shunned or lose face with the family and extended family and I would basically live a life not respected by the family. Is there any way around this culturally?

In my research I have limited information the above issue I addressed. interestingly, the only acceptable reason for divorce in the Balinese culture is for a man to divorce his wife if she is unfertile or unable to provide a child.  Then it seems to be okay for the man to leave and remarry with no repercussions.  But of course not the wife.

Is there anyone that can offer any insights to this topic?

Thank you for reading and any help you can offer

That will not change and there is nothing you  can do to change their tradition, culture and mindset.  Move to another country and marry her.  If you remain here the culture will prevail after all is said and done.  How much you  do really love that woman and how much does she love you.  Enough to leave and marry outside of Bali and the family. 

@Ubudian When people convert from their religion just to marry, it makes me wonder how much faith they really had in the first place.  I married a muslim girl and refuse to convert and it became a problem later down the line but I still refused to convert because I strongly believe in Christianity.  Eventually we went our separate ways.  I don't advise converting if you truly believe in your religion. 


“The family is not religious but enjoys a high class.”  Did you mean high caste as opposed to high class?  I could see some of her family concern if they are Brahmin caste, but apart from that, I've never heard those concerns or issues ever addressed by any Balinese, ever.  I was divorced as well before I married my Balinese wife many years ago, and it was never an issue nor did it reflect in any negative way against my wife, our three sons, or my wife's family.

Yes, for Balinese men, especially the first or second born, the issue of their wife's fertility is important.  This has to do with the continued nurture and care of the ancestral temples within their compound's family temples.  The fact is, a high percentage of Balinese perform the marriage ceremony only after the bride is suda hamil (pregnant).

If you haven't already done this, I suggest you get a copy of the late Fred B. Eiseman's superb book, “Bali, Sekala & Niskala”  (Bali, the seen and unseen).  As Fred makes very clear in the introduction of his book, it is based on his knowledge and experience from his many years living in Jimbaran, and as such, what he writes is not applicable to all of Bali as there are discrepancies and variations to be found within the Balinese culture and Agama Hindu Bali within the various regions of Bali.

@ Digitarius

As for me personally, I've never let the label of a religion define or affect my faith.  But I agree entirely with your overall message…that being to have all these religious issues sorted out well before tying the knot in ANY marriage. 

As for me personally, I've never let the label of a religion define or affect my faith. But I agree entirely with your overall message…that being to have all these religious issues sorted out well before tying the knot in ANY marriage.

A very good piece of advice. 1f44d.svg

Thanks Fred!  1f600.svg

Thanks all, I really enjoy reading the informative posts here.

I was wondering would signing a Prenup have any effect here? I met few ladies through dating apps, they all want a registered marriage signed by the Australian embassy. Apparently there are two types of marriage here in Indonesia, the traditional one with a religious ceremony held at a place of worship (but not legalised by court) and then there is the legalised one. 

If I open a business in my name would my future wife have any financial interest  in case of divorce?

Would a prenup protect parties here from such an event? If yes who would you recommend to draw one?

Traditional only marriages will allow you to live together in villages and so on where such a marriage would be seen as enough, but it would have no weight with immigration, so no visa based on it would be forthcoming.

The second would be legal in all ways, but you should have a certificate of no impediment from your own country. Registering a marriage with your own embassy is optional but, in the event of you moving back 'home', very useful.

A pre-nup can say pretty much whatever you want and, in the case of a legal marriage, has the weight of law behind it.

Opening a business in your name would require you to set up a PT PMA - That doesn't come cheap and there are a lot of restrictions.


How and where did you marry your Muslim wife?

Is it legally recognised here in Indonesia?

I'm Catholic, and my girlfriend is Muslim. Sharia doesn't allow a Muslim woman to convert, but I can convert and then we can marry. Easy.

For me, the issue is not to be part of an organisation, but to do what I believe and I believe by heart and mind, not by applying for a Catholic membership and I don't care about a stamp, on a piece of paper.

As governmental requirements have to be fulfilled here, to make officials happy, I have to convert to marry my love, but i still give a sh*t which brand is stamped on any paper.

I believe what I believe in, my girlfriend believes what she believes in. Government believes whatever they want to believe, happy days for everyone.


We got married in Thailand and divorced there also.  My new wife and I married in Bali and it was much easier but she is not Muslim, she's Christian. 

@Digitarius  you can fly to Singapore and do it there ...without changing any religions ...both can keep their faith...