Family Law Blog

Muslim Marriage and Divorce in Britain

25 February 2016, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

The Muslim Woman’s Network (MWNUK) has published guidance on Muslim marriage and divorce in the UK.

The report is aimed at Muslim woman so that they are better informed about their rights and practices relating to marriage and divorce. MWNUK promotes the registration of Muslim marriages, i.e. having an additional civil marriage, so that a union is valid under English law.

The guidance includes real case studies and covers commonly asked questions such as seeking permission of parents, marrying outside of their faith, valid and invalid marriage and barriers that Muslim woman face when there are trying to get divorced.

The report can be found here [].

Children: religious upbringing

25 August 2012, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

Religion can be a contentious issue but, rather surprisingly, there have been few cases that have reached the courts.

One such case is Re N (A Child: Religion: Jehovah’s Witness) in which the father of a child disputed the right of the mother to allow or encourage the child to share her beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness.

The principles the court should apply in such circumstances were given as follows:

Neither parent has the right to dictate the religious upbringing of the child; a child should experience both religions as parental responsibility is equal. Where the practices of one parent conflict with the beliefs of the other the court can restrict the child’s involvement in such practices as long as it is justified and proportionate.

This case has been followed by another, Re C. In this case the court decided that the child was able to decide for herself whether she wanted to convert from Judaism to Christianity and it was not for either parent to decide.

Maintenance payments and Sharia law

10 July 2012, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by Dr Zaid al-Saffar, a hospital consultant and head of Scarborough Islamic Society, to overturn an order within divorce proceedings that he pay his former wife maintenance. Lord Justice Ward ruled that believing that maintenance payments were contrary to Islamic culture was no defence to orders made in English divorce courts.

In Sharia tradition Mrs al-Saffar, by accepting a dowry or Mahr, had forfeited her half interest in the former matrimonial home. It is also often accepted that the divorced wife will be supported by her family rather than receive maintenance payments from her former spouse.

This case has confirmed that English law will be applied in every divorce case in England and Wales. If there is a conflict between the two laws English law will take precedence. Blackburn MP Jack Straw said that “Dr al-Saffar was ill-advised to rely on Sharia law. There is only one law of the land which applies to everyone.”

However, it is still possible to incorporate Sharia law principles into a matrimonial settlement and the courts are willing to take cultural and religious considerations into account. This should not be assumed though and it is important to take legal advice.