We are one of the leading divorce firms of solicitors representing Muslims in divorce and Talaq proceedings in England.
This is a particularly complex area of the law and it is vital that where there is likely to be conflict between the English divorce system and the rights and expectations arising out of Sharia marriage, expert and specialist solicitors are consulted.
One of the complexities is that a Talaq (a Sharia or Muslim divorce) is generally not recognised in English law, where the Talaq is obtained in the UK. However; in certain circumstances where the Talaq is obtained abroad, it is recognised in English law.
A “talaq” (pronounced Talagh) is essentially an Islamic or Sharia divorce.
There are essentially two types of Talaq:
A bare Talaq is where a husband husband pronounces three times ‘I divorce you’. Such a pronouncement has the effect of dissolving the marriage instantly by Sharia law. However; this is not enough to satisfy the English courts
A legally binding Talaq, which is legally enforceable in the country where it is obtained is often, although not always, recognised in English law. this is explained in more detail further down in this article.
There has been some publicity in recent years with some high profile people suggesting that the Sharia divorce laws should have an element of recognition under English law.
This is beginning to happen now and there have been recent developments in caselaw which are starting to impact English law. It is a complicated area of law and really needs an expert to argue your case, but we have recently succeeded in limiting financial remedy claims in England to the Dowry which was set out in the Sharia marriage.
If you live in England & Wales then to obtain a divorce you need to go through the English divorce court system. failure to do this will render any Talaq or Sharia divorce invalid and unrecognised in the UK.
That would mean that although you may regard yourself divorced, in law, you might find that you are not divorced and that can lead to all sorts of other legal complexities. For example you would be committing an offence by remarrying or, complications if you wanted to sponsor your new partner to join you in the UK from abroad.
Essentially the issue of divorce in English law is completely separate from that of a Talaq in Sharia law. There may well be instances where you need assistance in obtaining both.
As specialist divorce lawyers we are often asked to deal with marriages and divorces that have taken place abroad.
We may need to consider whether a foreign marriage or indeed a foreign divorce is valid in the UK and if it is not, we can assist you in resolving that problem under English law. Often these issues can be relatively straightforward; sometimes they can be extremely complex.
The validity of your foreign divorce or Talaq will obviously be of extreme importance if you want to remarry in the UK.
However it can also often be a key factor in relation to the settling the financial aspects of your divorce, called Ancillary Relief or Financial Settlement. Often it can have considerable implications on the financial aspects of the divorce, whether you divorced in England or whether your Talaq or Sharia divorce can be shown to be valid.
To assess your particular circumstances we would recommend that you contact us on 020 8401 7352 for an initial free 15 minute telephone consultation.
Through our huge network of contacts and associations in the Muslim community in England & Wales, including many embassies and consulates, we can very often advise and assist you in relation to both your legal English divorce, as well as your Talaq or Sharia divorce.
That way we can protect your legal interests as well as ensuring that you comply with your Sharia obligations.
We can also assist and advise you where it becomes necessary to obtain declarations as to marital status, for example, where the courts declare that a marriage or divorce should or should not be legally recognised in England and Wales.
As a very general rule any overseas divorce obtained after 4 April 1988 is only recognised under English law if it is valid in the country it was obtained and at the relevant date, i.e. the date the divorce was granted, either the husband or wife were habitually resident or domiciled in that country or a national of that country.
As Talaq divorce is recognised in most Muslim countries then it follows that any Talaq divorce obtained in a Muslim country would be legally binding in England & Wales also, provided certain conditions are satisfied.
How can I obtain a Talaq Divorce that is legally recognisable in the UK?
A Talaq divorce which is recognised in law in a Muslim country or jurisdiction will be recognised in the English legal system provided certain formal requirements as set by the Muslim Family Law Ordinance 1961 (MFLO) are met. The include the following requirements:
A husband must give notice in writing of the pronouncement of a Talaq divorce to the Chairman of the Union Council of the Ward in which the couple live.
He must give a copy of this notice to his wife.
There are provisions for attempts at reconciliation during this 90 day period also known as ‘iddat’. During this period the marriage is in a state of suspension and the Talaq divorce can be revoked.
At the end of the 90 days (or at the end of the wife’s pregnancy if she is pregnant at this time) the divorce will take effect, unless revoked.
If a full Talaq divorce takes place in a Muslim or Sharia country then it will be recognised under English law only if the above procedures are complied with, and
the husband or the wife is a citizen of that Muslim country
he or she is habitually resident in that Muslim country
he or she is domiciled in that Muslim country
Can a Talaq be pronounced in the UK only?
A Talaq divorce pronounced in the UK alone will not be recognised by the English courts. The entire procedure must take place outside the UK and inside the Muslim country.
Q. Can an application for financial settlement (Ancillary Relief) still be brought under the English legal system, even if I have had my Talaq divorce from abroad?
A. This is possible, and it is often the case that both parties to the divorce have a valid financial claim, which can be made following the usual process.
An application for Ancillary Relief or Financial Settlement can be brought in English law, even many many years after the parties have divorced. This is a trap that some people fall into and another reason why expert legal advice from lawyers familiar with English law and Sharia law must be obtained.
Need further advice?
Call us on 020 8401 7352 to book an appointment with one of our expert divorce lawyers or email us your question at firstname.lastname@example.org.