How do I divorce, and is my Islamic Marriage recognised in the UK?

There are a multitude of different reasons that people wish to divorce these days, and it is reassuring to know that there are legal steps that you can take to separate yourself from your partner when you no longer wish to spend your life together. However, some recent cases have made it apparent that there is some difficulty with divorce in Islam being recognised by UK law. So, what are the differences and potential issues?

Getting divorced

Getting divorced UK involves a few different considerations. You must be able to fulfil the grounds for divorce that are laid out in UK law. These are:

  • Unreasonable behaviour

This is when one member of the partnership can prove that the other has behaved in a way that is unacceptable to live with. In most cases, this can include instances of excessive drinking, violent behaviour or financial extravagance.

  • Adultery

You must be able to prove that your spouse has had sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex and that you find it intolerable to live with them as a spouse.

  • Desertion

This grounds for divorce is rarely used because it involves proving that a spouse had the intent to divorce throughout an entire 2 year period that they had deserted their partner for.

  • 2 years separation with consent

If you and your partner have agreed to live apart for at least two years after the filing of your divorce petition, and you both agree to a divorce, then this can also be considered reasonable grounds for a divorce.

  • 5 years separation with no consent required

If you and your spouse have been living apart for five years after the presentation of your divorce petition, then it is considered grounds for divorce, and your former partner does not have to consent.

Why your Islamic divorce may be different

A recent High Court ruling means that Islamic Marriages that have taken place in the UK may not fall within the parameters that will offer the same legal protection and settlement that is offered within UK law. On 14th February 2020, a case involving Nareen Akhter and Mohammed Shabaz Khan was concluded with the ruling that their Islamic marriage ceremony was not valid because it was not performed in a building that was registered for weddings, no certificates had been issued and no registrar was present.

This case clearly highlights the confusion surrounding Islamic marriages and their legality within British law. It is always important to check your rights with a qualified solicitor, because you may not have the legal security that you would previously have assumed you have. Family practitioners will be able to help you with:

  • Financial settlements, including recovering the Mahr and wedding jewellery
  • Forced marriages and nullity of marriage
  • A child arrangement order – this includes parental responsibility and residence issues
  • Islamic mediation
  • Sharia compliant prenuptial agreements

Seeking a divorce can be an emotionally difficult process, and it is understandable that you may feel confused and uncertain about the future. Get the very best legal support in order to help you on your way to the next stage in your life.

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