Couples Islamic ceremony did NOT create a legal marriage – Court of Appeal

The marriage of a woman who wed her husband in an Islamic ceremony should not have been declared void, the Court of Appeal has ruled, in a case we say could have significant consequences for marital rights.

Her Majesty’s Attorney General v Akhter and Khan concerns a decision by Mr Justice Williams, in the family court, to pronounce a decree nisi of nullity. The couple wed in an Islamic ceremony which took place in a London restaurant in 1998. They knew the ceremony had no legal effect and intended to follow it up with a civil marriage ceremony compliant with English law, but this did not happen. 

The wife issued a divorce petition in 2016, relying on the Islamic ceremony. The husband said the couple were not legally married. The wife then relied on the presumption of marriage and, alternatively, sought a decree of nullity under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The attorney general intervened in the proceedings and argued that the petitioner was not entitled to a decree of nullity because the ceremony was of no legal effect.

Williams said the court was justified in taking a ‘holistic view of a process rather than a single ceremony’ and ruled that the wife was entitled to a decree of nullity.

However, in a judgment handed down today, the appeal court said the ceremony did not create a void marriage because it was a non-qualifying ceremony. ‘The parties were not marrying “under the provisions” of part II of the 1949 Marriage Act. The ceremony itself would have been permitted under section 44 if it had met the requirements of the law and had been performed in a registered building, but it was not. In addition, no notice had been given to the superintendent registrar, no certificates had been issued, and no registrar or authorised person was present at the ceremony. It was not, therefore, a marriage within the scope of, in particular, the provisions of section 26 of the 1949 act. We would also add that the parties knew that the ceremony had no legal effect and that they would need to undertake another ceremony which complied with the requirements of the 1949 act if they were to be validly married,’ the appeal court said.

The ruling has prompted calls for marriage laws to be updated. It is an unfortunate fact that every year thousands of women, usually muslim women, take part in these types of ceremonies and believe that they are legally married. Only when the relationship sours do they discover, to their shock and amazement, that they are not legally married and that the protections that the law gives to married women do not apply to them. Due to this, these women will miss out on a fair division of their husband’s assets and will have no rights of inheritance.

The previous High Court decision had given long needed hope to many women who are going through matrimonial breakdown with their Muslim husband’s, only to discover the English law does not recognise their marriage at all. However; today’s judgement, as unwelcome as it is, confirms the old position that these women will not be protected by the courts, unless the law of the land is changed. The only body who has the power to change the law is Parliament, which will need to pass a new law to help protect these women.

The issue being discussed here relates only to Muslim marriages that are conducted inside England & Wales. Those Muslim couples who marry according to their Islamic beliefs abroad are almost always validly married and those marriages are legal in England. But couples who actually have their marriage ceremony in England or Wales without a proper registration with the Registrar of Marriages, they are the ones affected by this decision.

Although this case involves a Muslim couple, the same law applies to any other religious couple who decide to marry in England using only their religious procedure and not the official Registrar of Marriages route.

If you have questions about the validity of your marriage, you can call us on 02084017352 for advice and guidance.

Couples facing delays of 59 weeks to get a divorce through the courts

Separated couples are facing a record wait to get divorced as a result of regional divorce centres trying to process a backlog of older cases, it has been revealed.

Quarterly statistics covering January to March 2019, published by the Ministry of Justice today, show that the average time from petition to decree absolute is 59 weeks. The average time from petition to decree nisi is 33 weeks – up six weeks from last year. The ministry says the figures ‘represent the highest figures so far for the periods covered by this bulletin, and is a result of divorce centres processing a backlog of older cases’.

Cyrus Mansouri, head of family law at Mansouri & Son Solicitors, said ‘the figures were shocking & disappointing but not surprising to those working in the family justice system. The Ministry of Justice introduced the new regional court system to solve the previous backlog, but what has been created is significantly worse than the system we had before.’

It is shocking that divorcing couples, including those who have no real dispute between them except that they want a divorce, are facing delays of six months simply to reach the decree nisi stage. This is made all the more frustrating because financial orders cannot be submitted to the court until this stage’.

A question mark hangs over the future of the 11 regional divorce centres, which have been heavily criticised by senior family judges.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division, told practitioners this year that the centres ‘have not worked well’. Days later his predecessor, Sir James Munby, said in a family court judgment that the centres had become ‘bywords for delay and inefficiency, essentially because HMCTS has been unable or unwilling to furnish them with adequate numbers of staff and judges’.

Last month McFarlane revealed that the centres were being phased out and replaced by an online system based in the new national Civil and Family Service Centre at Stoke on Trent.

Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 comes into force

On Sunday, 26 May, the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 came into force in accordance with section 6(3) of the Act. 

Section 2(1) of the Act empowers the Secretary of State, by regulations, to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 so that two persons who are not of the same sex are eligible to form a civil partnership in England and Wales (provided that they would be eligible to do so apart from the question of sex). Section 2(2) requires the Secretary of State to exercise that power so that such regulations are in force no later than 31 December 2019.

In short this means that once the new law becomes operational then heterosexual couples will be free to form ‘civil partnerships’. The civil partnership regulations had come under increased criticism after they were introduced to try and give gay couples similar matrimonial rights to heterosexual couples, but then criticism was directed at this claiming that it continued to differentiate between gay and heterosexual marriages simply because the law had a different name. To try and balance the rights of both heterosexual and gay couples the Government now allows both to enter into ‘civil partnerships’. It is hoped that any stigma associated with the name ‘civil partnership’ is now removed.

Domestic abuse bill ends family court cross-examination

Nearly two years after the government pledged to end the cross-examination of domestic violence victims by their alleged abusive ex-partners in the family courts, it has unveiled a draft bill to end the controversial practice.

The landmark bill, published today, will also introduce the first statutory definition of domestic abuse to specifically include economic abuse, as well as controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse.

The government says it decided to introduce a ban on cross-examination in the family courts following a unanimous response to its call for evidence and stakeholder events last year.

In criminal proceedings, the court can make an order preventing an unrepresented defendant cross-examining the alleged victim in person. In family proceedings, judges can use their general case management powers to prevent a victim from being cross-examined in person by the alleged perpetrator, but the family court currently cannot appoint a legal representative to represent the victim and conduct the cross-examination in their place.

Women’s Aid, which last year published research revealing shocking attitudes of how family courts handle domestic abuse, said it was ‘delighted’ that the government has listened to its ‘Child First’ campaign and introduced a ban.

However, Katie Ghose, Women’s Aid chief executive, said: ‘Although this new law is much welcomed, it alone will not protect survivors in the family courts and challenge the “contact at all costs” approach by judges which is putting children in danger. We look forward to working with the government to introduce greater protections in the family courts for survivors, like special measures to safeguard them in the courtroom, and ensure that children’s safety is put at the heart of all decisions made by the family courts.’

The government says it is making 120 commitments to tackle domestic abuse, including £8m of Home Office funding to support children affected by domestic abuse and an additional £500,000 for provisions for male victims.

وکیل طلاق و اختلافات خانوادگی در انگلستان و لندن

دکتر سیروس منصوری حقوق‌دان و وکیل پایه یک دادگستری انگلستان و لندن در زمینه‌ متخصص کلیه امور و قوانین طلاق و اختلافات خانوادگی است.

دکتر منصوری شخصأ پرونده موکلین خود را با دقت به قوانین انگلستان و با توجع به حقوق شرعی ایران به نتیجه پیرزی میرساند و برای موکلین خود همیشه بهترن نتیجه ممکنه را از همسرشان میگیرد.

دکتر منصوری در سختترین موقعیت زندگی موکلین خود از کلیه تجربه بیش از ۲۹ سال وکالت برای هموطنان ایرانی از درون کشور یا سراسر جهان موفقت پرونده خانوادگی موکلین خود را در مقابل معروفترین وکلای انگلیسی فراهم میکند. موکلین ایشان میتوانند اطمینان کامل داشته باشند که پرونده شما در دست سولیستر فارسی زبان است با امار موفقیت فوقالاده بالا و با تجربه در بیش از ۶۸۰۰ پرونده.

برای مشاوره با دکتر منصوری با شماه تلفن ۰۲۰۸۴۰۱۷۳۵۲ تماس حاصل بگیرید یا با ایمیل با ادرس