VIC Son Married Overseas - Apply for Divorce or Annulment?

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10 January 2016
My 32-year-old son is married to an Indonesian woman he met online. The first time they met in person was for a few days when they were married in a mosque in Jakarta. The second time they met in person, they had the marriage registered in the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and were together for a week.

The woman has a sick mother and a disabled son. My son was motivated by compassion for her situation and has regularly been sending money to her. Now he has discovered that she has lied to him, using aliases on her internet sites, and is probably giving the money to other people. She has used manipulative language in emails and messages to me, my husband and our son and always asks for more money.

I gave her money to have her son assessed by doctors and she used it for other purposes. I offered to pay school fees for the boy but she is not sending him to school. My son pays for her mother's medications, hospital and medical tests. The woman will not come to Australia on a Visitor Visa, despite the fact that we offered to pay for it. She knows that she will not be issued a Spouse Visa because of her dependents. She and my son have never lived together and never will.

My husband and I are pensioners and my son's continued payments to the woman are jeopardising his financial situation. We often lend him money to pay his mortgage and bills and none of us can afford high legal fees.

How can we apply for a divorce or annulment?


Well-Known Member
27 September 2015
So stop sending her money.

Get the paperwork in order to file for divorce. The filing part will cost about $700. There will be some issues because he will have to serve her with the divorce application and she will need to sign it, but he can do a sole application for divorce.

After that, she has 12 months to make an application for property / asset division. The only way she can do that is to apply to a court in Australia and that will cost her lots and lots of money as she will need a lawyer. So hopefully 12 months after the divorce is sorted she will not have made a court application, then your son will be off the hook.
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Divorce is a lengthy process - you need to be married for 2 years and separated for 12 months (included in the 2 years) before you can apply, but unfortunately I don't believe you would have grounds for annulment in this case.

Tim W

LawTap Verified
28 April 2014
I'm going to sound hard and harsh here, but let's be clear.
This is not a family law situation, this is fraud. Perhaps even organised crime.

I agree with @sammy01 - he should stop sending them money,
and painful as it may be for you, you should stop giving him money.

Understand this - there is no "we". You have no standing in terms of the validity of the marriage,
nor in terms of any proceedings to end it. He's an adult, as free to get scammed as he is to get married.

Understand also (painful as it is), that he will keep getting scammed as long as he chooses to.
His only option here is to harden up and cut off the money.
But, if he doesn't have the backbone to do it, there is little you can do to force him.

Now, what can you actually do?

The first thing to do is learn about his situation.
Consider whether or not the marriage is even technically valid in Indonesia.
I am not an expert in the law of marriage in Indonesia, but I would want to know
if all the Indonesian formalities were in fact completed.
Because if they were not, then at law, there is no marriage.

For example, consider how when one marries in Australia, there is often a "religious bit" (the prayers and vows and what have you)
and a "non-religious bit" - where the parties sign the Certificate and "do the paperwork".
I'd want to know if it was similar in Indonesia - that is, did they go through ALL the necessary steps?

You may find this helpful as backgrounder to the technicalities.
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