Divorcing in Indonesia

Hello everyone,

Reaching the decision to seek divorce can be hard. Filing the papers as an expat in Indonesia can be as taxing since a good grasp of legislations is needed and the process can prove to be tedious.

Where and how do you apply for a divorce in Indonesia? How long does it take for the process to be completed?

If the couple has children, which measures can be taken in order to protect their interests?

Which procedures should be completed so that the divorce is legally recognized in the country of origin?

How is divorce viewed in Indonesia?

Being away from one's home country and loved ones, what advice do have for staying strong emotionally and mentally in this situation?

Thanks for sharing your experience.


Islam and Christian divorce are treated slightly differently but both must fundamentally come under Indonesian law
Papers are prepared by the individuals lawyer who wishes for the divorce to proceed and these are handed to the other spouse usually by a representative of a court
Under Indonesian law if father is entered on a child's birth certificate the father is financially responsible for each child until 18 years of age if Christian, 21 years if Muslim, if father is not entered on child's birth certificate father has zero legal rights or responsibilities, however this can be made in a legally binding contract after or during a divorce if they so wish
First step is mediation, both parties sign if they agree to divorce, if one refuse to sign then divorce doesn't happen, however a magistrate/ judge can sign under certain circumstances . then several court appearances ( not the divorcing couple)  witness for both parties must be provided and are cross examined
All belongings purchased during marriage are 50/50 (in certain circumstances this may be the case before marriage also
Although foreign ownership of land almost never happens an expat can claim upto 25% of the value of land owned by the Indonesian spouse,
If for example an expat husband/ wife purchased a car before marriage but was in the Indonesians name for legal reasons but the expat has documents they paid for this (again under certain circumstances) the expat can be awarded the value of this)
Time scale varies one mix marriage couple I know started and finished in about 10 weeks another couple has been 18 months purely because the husband won't sign to agree and the grounds for divorce are not severe enough for a judge/ magistrate to intervene (but the husband must still provide financial support for wife and children)
It is very flexible in Indonesia, meaning in many countries an husband has a % to pay for each child etc, here they pay what they want
Documents after divorce (can't comment on Muslim marriage/ divorce) only one is issued usually to the Indonesian the expat would need to get this copied and made legal otherwise if they wished to remarry it could be very difficult

My first question is who is trying to divorce who? Most Indonesian women trying to divorce their Indonesian husband usually can't because they can't afford it. An then there's the husband agreeing to it makes it even more messy. Compared to American divorce the Indonesian divorce is messy and complicated. Indonesian women wanting to divorce their foreigner husband I've seen doing so without much trouble and I've also seen the foreign husband lose everything regardless of a prenuptial agreement. If all a foreigner is entitled to is 25% one might laugh and weigh out the legal fee versus the 25%. And good luck getting it. Most foreigners never win anything in divorce. If the foreigner has any money the best settlement is to negotiate with the spouse out of court. Have the marriage annulled with a notary. Many never bother with divorce, They move apart. Find a new VISA sponsor. Otherwise if they're no children involved I would leave Indonesia if the divorce was too much trouble and forget about it. Good Luck.

Diksha, I think I would probably just leave Indonesia and not bother with the documentation. If I had kids I'd probably bring them with me, and if I thought she deserved something then I'd give it. In other words, trust your own judgement rather than that of a foreign country where laws are not always perceived as fair. My advice is not to get married when intoxicated or based on looks alone. Choose someone educated and responsible, choose carefully. Stash something aside overseas in your own name. Don't be foolish. I see expats with little Asian ladies beside them shouting and arguing at each other. I really pity those poor men.

With couples I know who have divorced within Indonesia it's actually been a decent process though admittedly confusing hence they are 3 levels for contesting the outcome most don't pursue (and yes can be expensive) but many rulings get overturned for the correct outcome

I wouldn't advise any expat taking children out of the country who was born in Indonesia ( or have Indonesian mother) even with the expats name on the child's passport without the Indonesian parents consent it's abduction

25% of land ownership in a divorce is a fact, for an expat however it would quite probably not be awarded if a single ownership of property/ land effected the Indonesian spouse as a main / only home especially with children if several properties for example (and many mix married couples I know own many properties)  it would be split 50/50 house 75/25 land sales it's stated in Indonesian law and can't be changed by any single judge only law makers

Assets abroad can not be touched by Indonesia legal system within a divorce and once papers have been served for a divorce to the other spouse all claims of future earnings etc are wavier the only exception to this may possibly be any agreement Indonesia has with other countries within APAC region but I honestly have no idea if this is the case

the only known overseas money taken into account what I am aware about is for tax reasons within Indonesia, and that's only if the two countries have/ don't have a tax agreement whilst paying tax in Indonesia (2nd income)

Leaving money and assets out of Indonesia I agree 100% only an idiot would bring everything here and without a legally made last will and testament your loved ones back home won't see a single penny (if everything is here)

Im just gonna say it , im looking to divorce my indonesian wife and i wanna do it the clean way and not just dump her back home and dissapper. What's the whole process like?, been married 2 years now.


They are a few options open to either spouse, if you have assets within Indonesia and children to look after whether you are a biological parent/ step parent you'll do well to get 50% being a foreigner Indonesian parent with kids will take priority
Any assets away from Indonesia stay exactly that so don't be sucked in even with a prenup/ postnup assets away cannot be touched unless declared for tax reasons
Option 1 .....
Separate in a polite way 2 years or so sorts it self out maybe $100 equivalent max
Option 2 depending on assets within Indonesia ie 1 or more property / land purchased when married you'll have a financial interest, (if one property and child forget it) purchased before marriage forget it
If no assets within Indonesia/ financial interest hire a lawyer and job is done in a few weeks/ month or two,
If several properties and bank accounts within Indonesia it can get messy and very expensive
Once “separated” and not yet divorced DO NOT take on another partner in any way shape or form in a physical way (dating/ meals etc is fine) it's totally illegal and you WILL go to jail if your spouse has proof
Any financial support you wish to give after divorce is totally up to you and is not defined in law $1 or $10,000 a month (equivalent) is up to you and not the judges
Any last will and testimony held in Indonesia cancel immediately
Any held in another country is fine unless your current spouse is named and you want to change (wills not made legal within Indonesia cannot have a claim made against after death)
Any financial gains by you once your spouse has been issued papers by the court are void by your spouse and can't claim against you (hence once divorced it's up to you how much you pay per month)

As I'm really concerned about the child's welfare.  Nomatter how little or how much the mother vices the child in a power play, she vantages her mothers role as a national.
Never know if I will see the child again from last time we visit, shes highly restrictive and aloof about any share time.
I had got a bit minced on my Kitas first time around once telex was available onshore, only gave me six months, six months was lost during the emergency period when I had no rights of working.
She's moody, threatens all too regularly or claims for divorce (last one took her seven years!), makes fights just to bluff favour her way, derogatively remarks of how she feels I practice Islam (sorry to add).
How do I enforce power to spend time with our child?  What happens should I loose my visa as result of divorce?
I'd come here to be guardian and a parent in her life.  Gave it all up back home and she threatens to have me blacklisted from the country one way or another.  Drama queen mother snobs me off for purpose of going back to the single/independant lifestyle and racks me for money and support but will not comply to my basic wishes or requests.  Yet with things the way they are presently the shoe is on the other foot and I've basically been abandoned and run down, as well to the last $1AU. 
Do I let it fizzle out for a year and simply claim abandonment for divorce?  As she's only technically deprived of financial support, I'm deprived of any family parental relationship or duties.  Makes me look in the wrong as she adapts her ever changing sympathy story.
How are my chances in reversing the role and taking full guardianship of the child both with the interest to remain in the country as well as return home together but as a broken family?  And is this a family law case matter separate to the Religious Courts r.e. when divorcing?

There must be thousands of expats here put on the hampster wheel by these obsessive 'don't need the relationship anymore' type spouses.

Not sure either,,? then how on earth do you get a national here ordered for a mental examination even if they dont appear to be at significant risk to themselves?

I can't answer any of your questions, but was curious about the age of the child, are you the father of the child and does the child have an Australian passport?

The child is early 2yo.  She is Indonesian.  She'll have to wait till she's 18yo if it's going to be an independant decision for her.
By then I might have assumed Indonesian Citizenship.  But just now that's not my goal.

Thanks for your interest.
My wife is kind of confused if She would benefit more through divorce than marriage.
Generally in most senses that would mean she's not happy or even relationship interested.
Things can take on a dull sense of necessity for some people, leaving the potential of a healthy relationship both stray and uncertain...😉🙏

Thanks for your interest.

Hoping we can afford a good legal service if that time should come.

My kids are still young and they have both British and Indonesian passports. When they reach 18 they can decide but probably they will choose to stay British and give up their Indonesian nationality. Obviously we don't know all the details, but I would nevertheless gather copies of all documents relating to your daughter and your wife and her parents since you never know what might happen in the future. That way, whatever happens in the future you stand a good chance of getting back in touch.

There's no option for dual citizenship regarding Indonesia with Australia.
It's likely to be a high call for these little ones when they ripen to the age of 18.
I understand the way things are set out They only have a short window of time to formalize the option to automatically migrate.
They really need a trust fund and to have reasonably good standing with family, contacts, friends and customs abroad.
Its extreamly rare for nationals here to have an outlet for migration.  And with will likely ensue serious envy from others, I'm sure... Family networks here tend to treat it as a failure for a lost relative.

All the best with your caring and direction 🙏