ULUWATU CASES - Was It Divorce?

Was It A Divorce?


It looked like one. We had our problems, so at first when I received the accusation naming a fictious Balinese ceremony as the basis of our marriage, I thought it only an irritation, another little deceit of many that would have to be put right.

Michael and Made Jati married in Los Angeles in 1985.

Made Jati and her family grabbed our Uluwatu business immediately, but I was more concerned about our children and I assumed my wife was, too.

Made Jati refused all communication with me, but surely, I thought, this was only a fit of temper and we would eventually find a way to mediate a settlement.

As the months went by it became apparent that the planning was astonishingly complex.


The Trial


The facts I brought to trial were these:

  • Uluwatu Boutiques and Kori Restaurant are owned by me, Michael Donnelly, and Made Jati, husband and wife. Made Jati and I married in California in 1985, moved to Bali in 1987 and bought Uluwatu from the former owner M. McHugh in 1988.
  • Made Jati claimed in her Accusation of Divorce that we married in a Balinese ceremony at her home in Kuta in 1996. In fact, no such Balinese ceremony ever occurred. Made Jati's actual home had been in Sanur with our children and me for over eight years, and in the accusation Made Jati did not mention the California marriage.
  • There had indeed been a Balinese wedding, but it took place at our home in Sanur two and half years earlier in 1994. Made Jati's family had requested me to take part as a religious ceremony and explained it was a reaffirmation of the California marriage. They didn't tell me they planned to use it to replace our California marriage.
  • In court I produced witnesses to the California marriage and to the actual 1994 Balinese ceremony.


Surprisingly, the National Court in Denpasar found in Made Jati’s favor and awarded a divorce based upon the non-existent 1996 Balinese marriage.

The falsification of the date of the Balinese ceremony to 1996 was disastrous: our two children were born in 1993 and 1994. Made Jati claimed the children were born out of wedlock and that I had no parental rights to them. Made Jati’s more important objective, however, appeared to be control of the family assets, because armed with the National Court decision and the threat of arrest by the police if I interfered, she and her Balinese family seized Uluwatu Boutiques, Kori Restaurant and all our other properties in Indonesia, claiming them as her assets before marriage, and they supported their claims with documents I had signed.

I appealed the decision to the High Court and again lost.