A lawyer in Sarawak wants the Married Women and Children Act 1968 Act extended to the state.
In any divorce proceedings, it is duty of the court and also a solicitor to ensure the children are taken care off and that maintenance of the children is properly managed, said a senior lawyer Voon Shiak Ni.
“However, keeping up the maintenance for children, under a divorce order in Sarawak has been observed to be a problem and an issue affecting children welfare and livelihood.
“In a divorce proceedings, the court will make order for maintenance for the children, depending on the earnings of the husband and the number of children of the marriage.
“I myself being a legal practitioner in divorce matters, do personally have knowledge that there are instances of the husband not being able to keep up with the orders of maintenance and defaulting in payment is not uncommon.” added Voon, who is also state PKR women chief.
According to her there has been a continuous increase in the number of divorces cases in Sarawak.
Statistics showed that in 2007 there were 1,724 cases. But the numbers had progressively increased over the years. Last year the state recorded more than 3,000 divorces.
Voon said in view of the rising divorce rates, it was imperative that the current law be extended to Sarawak.
She said the court had the power to make an attachment of earnings order, provided for under the Married Women and Children (Enforcement of Maintenance) Act 1968.
This is to ensure the husband does not default, and the wife can appeal to the court for an attachment of earnings’ order, she said.
This means the husband’s employer will be responsible for deducting the maintenance payment from the husband’s salary so that it can be sent to the wife directly through the court.
“However this provision is only applicable to the states of Peninsular Malaysia and not applicable to Sarawak.
“We urge the government to review this matter so that our court can make attachment of earnings orders to the earnings of the husbands,” she added.
Voon also called for state Minister for Women, Family and Community, Fatimah Abdullah to give the issue some attention and to pressure the federal ministry for the necessary extension of the Married Women and Children Act 1968 Act to Sarawak.