Navigating Family Law in Indonesia

Navigating Family Law in Indonesia

19 November 2019

No property rights and no custody rights if a child is born out of wedlock are just 2 examples that showcase the complexities of family law in Indonesia, highlighted at a seminar hosted by O’Sullivan Davies Lawyers in partnership with the International Academy of Family Lawyers – Asia Pacific Chapter and the Family Law Practitioners’ Association of Western Australia.

Member of the Indonesian Bar Association and California State Bar, Andrew I. Sriro of Satrio Law Firm presented to a number of family lawyers highlighting the need for an expert when navigating family law in Indonesia. 

Mr Sriro is a qualified specialist in mixed nationality family matters and fluent in both English and Bahasa Indonesian.

“The Indonesian legal system has two courts, the Religious Court which has jurisdiction over Muslim marriages and the District Court for non-Muslims,” Mr Sriro explained. 

“Divorce can be granted without a discussion or agreement to property settlement, alimony or custody; they can be dealt with in later proceedings.”

 “In relation to children, in Indonesia there is no enforcement of custody – there have been cases when a parent has taken a child during visitation and the child has not been returned.”

“If a child is born in Indonesia outside of marriage, only the mother’s name is registered on the birth certificate, there is no acknowledgement of the father and thus, the father has no rights to custody or visitation under Indonesian law.”

Andrew Davies, a partner of the firm, said that Mr Sriro’s presentation was eye-opening.

“Mr Sriro spoke about the need for original copies of deeds and documentary evidence for property ownership, without which, one doesn’t have any property rights in Indonesia. There were many questions from the floor in relation to property ownership, time share properties and buying villas in Bali which is especially relevant for many separating couples in Perth,” Mr Davies said.

“What’s important for Western Australians to note, given that Bali is our most popular international destination, is that foreign judgements are not enforceable in Indonesia.”

“Family lawyers dealing with Indonesians, mix-marriages or child custody need to be equipped with knowledge of the differences in family law in those two countries, and that’s what the session was about,” Mr Davies said.

“We are leading by example by hosting education sessions for our lawyers and also for our peers at other firms.”

Topics that were covered included the legal requirements of marriage in and out of Indonesia, joint and separate property rules and pre and post marital agreements, rights to acquire and transact in real and personal property during marriage, divorce jurisdiction and procedures, property settlements and child custody.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that Australians made 122,000 trips to Indonesia in September (2019) alone and 1.31 million trips were taken to Indonesia in the 2018-19 financial year. Indonesia is the most popular overseas holiday destination for Western Australians.

We’re Here to Help

Family law matters can be difficult and complex. If you require any assistance with a family law dispute, always contact a legal practitioner who will be able to help.

Partner Andrew Davies is a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, former Chair of the Family Law & Family Rights Section of LawAsia, current Chair of Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators (AIFLAM) and committee member of STEP Western Australia. You can find his profile here.


This article is not legal advice and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.

If you would like to republish this article, please contact us prior to doing so at