Are Sharia Divorces (Talagh or Talaq) valid in English law
If you marry abroad and obtain a Nikkah abroad in a country which practices Sharia Law your marriage will automatically be legally recognised in England & Wales. However questions can arise as to whether the same applies when you obtain a Sharia divorce, called a Talaq, from abroad. Unfortunately the answer is not straightforward.
A Talaq which is recognised in a Sharia Law practising country can be enforced and recognised in the England & Wales provided that some of the formal requirements set out in law are met. These requirements are:
- The husband or the wife must be a national of the country where the Nikkah was obtained under Sharia law; or
- The husband or the wife must be habitually resident in that country. This requires that the Sharia law country is their usual place of residence and that they ordinarily live there; or
- The husband or the wife must be domiciled in the Sharia law country. Domicile is different from habitual residence in law. Domicile is often gained at birth and therefore it is possible to remain domiciled in a jurisdiction even after having left that jurisdiction to live elsewhere. Domicile does not automatically change with immigration status.
When one of the parties to a Sharia marriage satisfies at least one of the above requirements, then the procedure to be followed in order for a Talaq to be recognised in England & Wales requires the following steps to be taken:
- The Husband is required to give notice in writing of the pronouncement of the Talaq to the chairman of the Union Council of the ward in which the couple live; and
- The Husband must serve this notice on his Wife; and
- During the following 90 day period known as iddah there are provisions for attempts of reconciliation. During this period a Talaq can be automatically revoked if a reconciliation is successful.
- Where a reconciliation is not successful then following the iddah the talaq will take effect.
It is only in this manner that a Talaq obtained in a Sharia law practicing country will be recognised in English law.
The law will not recognise a Talaq where the husband has pronounced the Talaq in England & Wales alone. Therefore the process outlined above only applies to Talaq’s obtained outside England & Wales in a Sharia law practicing country.
For more information about Sharia law and divorce see our earlier post ‘divorce and talaq‘
Despite the above summary Sharia divorce is not a straightforward area of the law. It is fraught with complications and a careful balance must be reached between the expectations of the parties to the marriage and the requirements both of Sharia law and the laws of England and Wales. If you require any specific advice relating to Sharia law or Islamic divorces (Talaq), please telephone 020 8401 7352 to book an appointment to see a specialist divorce solicitor.