August 16, 2018

High Court Recognizes a Sharia Marriage Under British Matrimonial Law

In a high-profile divorce case, the High Court has ruled that an Islamic marriage performed in a Sharia court falls under British matrimonial law–meaning the marriage is legally valid and can go through divorce proceedings.

Nasreen Akhtar, one part of the estranged couple, will now be able to take her case against her husband to divorce court and claim her share of the assets from their marriage. Without the recent High Court ruling, she would not have been able to.

According to the judge who oversaw the case, the marriage should be considered valid under both Islamic and British law considering the couple had lived as man and wife for all intents and purposes since taking their vows 20 years ago.

The ruling now opens the door for all women who marry under Sharia to petition a divorce court for a share of the assets of the marriage, even if they weren’t married under British law.

Some onlookers of the verdict celebrate it for advancing the right of Muslim women in divorce proceedings.

According to government reports, before the ruling changed the marriage landscape, many Muslim women did not know that they had little to no protection under British law in regards to their Islamic marriage.

Without the protection of British law, Muslim women would have to petition Islamic courts, mostly made up of men, in order to have their marriage annulled–and usually had to make concessions to their husband to do so.

Read the full story here.

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