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Understanding How To Divorce In Muslim Law & Khula Divorce

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional journey for most separating couples. However, there are some additional considerations for those going through a religious and a civil divorce per Muslim law and according to the Khula process. 


At Guillaumes, we understand the intricacies of Muslim law and Khula divorce and can guide you through the process from start to finish. We’ve shared the essential elements of Muslim law and Khula divorce, including the technicalities and the Muslim divorce process. 

How does Muslim / Islamic divorce work in the UK?

Many Muslim couples in the UK are married under Islamic law through a purely religious ceremony – the Nikah. With that said, such marriages are not technically recognised by UK law. For this reason, some couples also choose to have a civil ceremony, but many do not. According to the Independent Review into the application of Sharia Law in England and Wales, a large number of Muslim couples do not register their religious marriage as a civil marriage.

Why is civil marriage important in the UK?

A civil marriage ceremony is necessary because it allows both parties to benefit from the legal protections only available to those legally married. Couples who only have an Islamic marriage ceremony are treated as cohabitants if they split up or if one partner passes away. Unfortunately, under the current law in this country, cohabiting partners do not have an automatic right to the assets of the other party in the event of divorce, including property, money, investments, or pensions. As a result, they can find themselves homeless or without any money and spousal maintenance. 


How to divorce in Muslim law? 


You can initiate an Islamic divorce by one party completing the application form on the Islamic Council website. 

If the husband applies for divorce, the process is called Talaq. In this case, the husband is viewed as having broken the marriage contract and normally has to pay any deferred Mahr (dowry) or allow his wife to keep it. On the other hand, if the wife wishes to initiate divorce, she must apply to a Sharia Council through a process called ‘Khula’. Different procedures depend on whether both parties agree on the divorce. For example, if the husband has broken the Nikah agreements or if the wife has some form of oppression, such as mental or physical abuse.

The whole process of Khula divorce in Muslim law can take between 4 and 6 months. The exact Muslim divorce process depends on whether the husband or the wife applies for the divorce and if the marital contract (Nikah) has been adhered to throughout the marriage. 

It is also essential to understand that, as part of the Khula or Talaq process, the Islamic Council encourages couples to find a resolution through an expert arbitrator before separating, such as seeking marriage counselling to reconcile differences. If the couple is also married under English law, a civil divorce must be pursued alongside the religious divorce.


What if my husband doesn’t agree with Khula?


If you are in a position where your husband does not agree to Khula, you can still approach a Sharia Council for a divorce. They may grant the divorce if they find sufficient grounds, such as a breach of the marital contract or oppression. In some cases, the court may attempt to mediate between the husband and wife to find a mutually beneficial resolution for both parties.


Is a civil divorce necessary if married under Sharia law?


f you are married under English and Sharia law, you will need to apply for a civil divorce in addition to your religious divorce. Sometimes, a husband may want a civil divorce but not agree to a religious divorce.

The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 can help you by asking the family court to delay your final order until the Sharia Council approves the religious divorce. U When the final order is issued, you are legally separated from your husband or wife. 


What happens if my Mahr is not fully paid?


You can apply to recover the amount owed from the Mahr if your husband hasn’t fully paid it by applying to the family court as part of your financial settlement. However, if you’re only married under Islamic law, you can issue a claim for breach of contract, especially if a written marriage contract specifies a sum. Speaking to family divorce lawyers specialising in Islamic marriages can help advise you on the best route of Muslim divorce. 

Guillaumes LLP Solicitors is a full-service law firm based in Weybridge, Surrey. Our highly experienced team of family divorce lawyers can assist you with any aspect of your Islamic divorce. To make an appointment, please call us on 01932 840 111.

03 July 2024
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