Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

A man can divorce his wife by text message in Malaysia, according to reports last week in the Malaysian New Straits Times. The ruling by the Islamic Syariah court follows a similar decision by a Dubai court in 2001.

Divorce under Islamic law can be very straightforward. Men are permitted to divorce their wives by saying "I divorce you" three times. If he makes the statement only twice, he can change his decision within three months. Women do not share this right. Any question of whether the divorce is valid has then to be decided by a Syariah court.

According to the New Straits Times, the Gombak Timur Syariah Lower Court ruled that a text message sent by Shamsudin Latif to his wife Azida Fazlina saying "If you do not leave your parents' house, you'll be divorced" was a valid declaration of divorce.

The court held that the intent shown in a text message was as valid as if it had been sent in a letter, and therefore held the marriage to be annulled.

Courts in Singapore have rejected divorce by text message. But the courts in Dubai have held SMS to be a valid form of statement for divorce since June 2001 when a Mr Darwash texted his wife with the message, "Why are you late? You are divorced".