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The recognition of Islamic marriage in divorce law

Earlier this month, the High Court in London ruled that a marriage under Islamic Law is under the scope of marriage law in England. While it was found to be within the scope of marriage, it was found that it would be void under marriage rules.

While void, the fact that the marriage was found to come under English marriage law rules could have major effects for the thousands of Islamic marriages in England and Wales.

The Case

The case in question involved a Muslim couple who decided to divorce having gone through a religious ceremony in 1998. This religious ceremony, in this case, was not recognised by English marriage law.

In deciding the case, Mr Justice David Williams found that Islamic Marriage did come under English Marriage law found in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. He then went on to rule that while recognised, it would be classed as a void marriage under section 11 of the act as it did not meet all the requirements that are necessary for a marriage to be formed. 

While the couple had lived as if it was a marriage, their family and friends viewed them as married and they met the requirements of the UAE authorities, the absence of a civil ceremony meant it did not meet English law.

In finding the marriage to be recognised but void, it gave the woman in this case legal rights in terms of making a financial claim on her husband. If this had not been the finding, she would have been left with no rights to money despite being married for over 10 years. 

Recognition in Scotland

While there is as yet to be a similar case in Scotland, the outcome of this case in England has ramifications for thousands of marriages. Muslim women seeking a divorce from this point forward will now have rights to make financial claims under English law when separating which they previously did not have. This will reduce inequality between those in the relationship and allow many to leave marriages that they were not happy in but feared to leave due to what their financial situation could be.

Making a Marriage recognised

While Islamic Marriages under Sharia Law have only just been recognised by this case in England, there has been no such recognition in Scotland. Following this case, any legal challenge in Scotland may also follow suit in recognising them. In order to ensure that your situation and rights are secure, it is best to follow any religious ceremony under Sharia law with a civil ceremony which is recognised by Scots law. This guarantees minimum rights to those in the marriage upon divorce.

At the time of this ruling, family law in Scotland is under review, meaning there may be recognition for Islamic Marriages in Scotland sooner rather than later. 

Contact our expert Family Law Solicitors Glasgow, Coatbridge 

Thompson Civil and Family Law Solicitors are a Glasgow law firm, specialising in divorce and family law matters. If you are considering divorce, or have any family law concerns, do not delay and speak with one of our expert lawyers today on 0141 404 6575 or via our online enquiry form.

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