I will love you now and forever, or is it? 

Author: Edmund Choi

As seen in the movies and dramas, when a man marries a woman, he solemnly pledges his faith, love and support to his beloved wife-to-be from this day to his last. Well, this is all fine and well, until either party discovers that they have made a mistake. There are a variety of reasons and views that we have listened to from both sides namely, “He or She changed after the marriage”, “I lost my feelings for him or her”, “Our families just could not get along”, and the list goes on. 
Therefore, Husband (H) or Wife (W) often seek the next best solution to get them out of their said marriage, namely a divorce. We have received numerous inquiries on divorce matters until we put forward the question, how long have you been married? The answers could well range from just a month to a few months at times. H and W are always under the assumption that a divorce can be filed at any time as long as they are legally married within the relevant laws and jurisdiction of Malaysia.
In this article, we look at the general framework on the timeframe to file a divorce and the exceptions relevant to this area of matrimonial proceedings. It is a fixed rule that no petition for divorce shall be presented to the Court before the expiration of the period of two years from the date of the marriage under Section 50(1) Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce Act) 1976 (“LRA 1976”). 
Exception to the Restriction to Present Petition for Divorce within 2 years of marriage.
The Court may allow the presentation of a petition for divorce within 2 years of marriage on the grounds that the case is one of exceptional circumstances or hardship suffered by the petitioner. In this regard, the Court will also consider if the exceptional hardship is continuing or present and that such alleged hardship cannot be founded solely on past behavior only. This restriction also does not apply if one spouse has converted to Islam as laid under s. 51 LRA 1976.
The Court may allow the presentation of a petition for divorce within 2 years of marriage on the grounds that the case is one of exceptional circumstances or hardship suffered by the petitioner. In this regard, the Court will also consider if the exceptional hardship is continuing or present and that such alleged hardship cannot be founded solely on past behavior only. This restriction also does not apply if one spouse has converted to Islam as laid under s. 51 LRA 1976.
So then, what constitutes as an exceptional circumstance? This is relatively subjective and factually based as the judge would decide on his own subjective-valued judgment based on the reasonable and acceptable standards of behaviors between spouses. 
In general, the courts have imposed a very high threshold as the courts are reluctant to easily grant an order for divorce within 2 years of marriage. The rationale behind this, is that if a divorce is too easily obtainable, it would devalue the institution of marriage and defeat the purpose of a marriage in the first place.
To illustrate this further, a common example and complaint of one spouse would be that the H or W had committed adultery. However, such incident is not to be considered as an exceptional circumstance in the eyes of the Court unless such adulterous act is accompanied with some form of cruelty (violent or abusive relationship) or desertion. Allegations of complaints based on unreasonable behavior only are unlikely to satisfy the threshold and standard of the Courts.
Marriage is the beginning of a life-long commitment in which it is some form of a union between a H and W. Spouses are to understand the sanctity of marriage and that there is no quick and immediate recourse to bailing themselves out of an unhappy marriage within 2 years. Feel free to contact our expert team for complimentary legal consultation and comprehensive solution.
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