Tag: Religious Divorce Sharia

Divorce Causes in India

Divorce can have many causes, but in India there is a bizarre case going on in which a Muslim woman has sought divorce in an Islamic court from her husband on the grounds that he does not fight with her enough.

India Divorce

The Spice of Life

The unidentified woman in the Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh has sought a divorce from her husband after only 18-months of marital bliss. The woman approached the Sharia court in Sambhal to seek a divorce, leaving the court puzzled.

Why was the court so confused?

The chief complaint from the woman is that her husband loves her too much and does not fight with her. The woman claimed that her husband’s love was ‘suffocating’ her.

“He does not shout at me and neither has he upset me on any issue. He even cooks for me and also helps me in performing household chores.”

She further said, “Whenever I make a mistake, he always forgives me for that. I wanted to argue with him. I do not need a life where the husband agrees to anything.”

The Sharia court cleric, as expected, rejected her plea for divorce, terming it as frivolous. When the Sharia court refused to grant her divorce, the woman took up the matter with the local panchayat (the local self-government in villages in rural India), which also expressed its inability to decide the issue.

Florida No Fault Divorce

The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need fault as a ground for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce. So, whether your husband is always forgiving of your mistakes, or worse, very agreeable to anything you want, you don’t need to allege that as a grounds for divorce.

I’ve written about divorce and infidelity issues before. The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce, like your husband’s nice demeanor. Instead, you just need to state under oath that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Before the no-fault divorce era, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over, or throw mud at each other and prove wrongdoing like adultery or abuse.

No-fault laws were the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. Gone are the days when you had to prove adultery, desertion or annoying behavior in a government enforced quarantine.

The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Additionally, the mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three year, is another avenue.

What do you do if you are trapped in quarantine with someone you want to separate from?

To avoid problems during a quarantine, you may have to force yourself to work together – however difficult that may be.

Couples who are separating or separated already, and are parents, are being forced to work as a team and talk through problems that are making forced quarantine impossible. Reassure each other that you will make it through and work together.

The key if you’re living together is to strike the right balance between having quality intimate time together, or if you’re at the brink of your relationship, giving each other some space.

Divorce Bollywood Style?

Back in India meanwhile, the nice husband has gone on record and stated that he loved his wife dearly and always wanted to keep her happy. He also asked the Sharia Court cleric to reject the divorce plea. Of course.

The court has now asked the couple to resolve the matter mutually.

The Tribune India article is here.

 

Social Media and International Child Custody

An American woman living in Saudi Arabia has been punished in her international child custody divorce. During the divorce trial, her Saudi ex-husband was able to introduce exhibits from her social media account into evidence. The social media evidence proved fatal to her custody case.

ocial media international child custody

Desert Justice

Though she succeeded with the divorce, her custody battle appeared to reach a dead end after a Saudi judge awarded custody of their daughter Zeina to the husband’s mother, who lives with him, despite video evidence Ms. Vierra submitted to the court that she said showed her ex-husband doing drugs and verbally abusing her in front of their daughter.

“It’s like 10,000 times worse here because so much is at risk for women when they go to court. I genuinely thought that there would still be justice served here, and I kind of put everything on that.”

Saudi courts prioritize ensuring that children are raised in accordance with Islam. According to court documents, the judge accepted Ms. Vierra’s ex-husband’s arguments that she was unfit to raise Zeina because she was a Westerner, and ran a yoga studio.

Social Media and International Child Custody

Divorce trials usually require the introduction of sensitive and personal evidence. For example, it is common to hire private investigators to film spouses, or use forensic accountants to hunt for strange credit card charges.

Sometimes though, the evidence falls in your lap. Facebook and other social media sites are often filled with very personal information which is increasingly being used in divorce trials. You may have heard of some examples:

  • A Husband posts his status as single and childless on Facebook while seeking primary custody of his children.
  • A mother is accused of never attending her kids’ school events because of her online gaming addiction. Evidence subpoenaed from World of Warcraft tracks her on-line with her boyfriend at the time when she was supposed to be with the children.
  • A husband denies he has any anger management issues, but posts on Facebook; “If you have the balls to get in my face, I’ll kick your ass into submission.”
  • A mom denies in court that she ever smokes marijuana, but then uploads photos of herself smoking pot on Facebook.

Is the evidence admissible? And if so, how do you prove the evidence is real and not maliciously put there? The Florida Bar Commentator published an article I wrote about using Facebook evidence at trial.

The article discusses the evidentiary potential of social media sites, and the peculiar challenges of authenticating materials from the internet. Social media websites like Facebook have had an astronomical growth worldwide, and are showing up in divorce trials.

The article suggests some of the benefits and obstacles in gathering and using Facebook and other social media evidence at trial. The article also reviews the then leading national cases on social media websites, and outlines when it is necessary to use computer forensic firms and other sources to ensure that the evidence is properly admitted.

Your Desert Kingdom Divorce

The status of women in Saudi Arabia is changing. Many women now enjoy new reforms in the law which allow women to drive, and even to a certain degree, vote. The election allowing it was for municipal councils with few powers, but the reform is a milestone for many women.

But the dramatic changes have not touched the most fundamental restriction on Saudi women, a guardianship system that gives men control over many critical parts of their wives.

The guardianship system’s rules extend to women who marry Saudis, like Ms. Vierra. Even after she divorced her husband last year, Ms. Vierra’s ex-husband remains her guardian. Wielding his guardianship powers, he prevented her from going home to see her family at Christmas and let her legal residency expire, which left her stuck, unable to access her bank account or leave Saudi Arabia.

During the divorce trial, he told the court that Ms. Vierra, did not speak Arabic well, and that she was an atheist. He also submitted photos of her in a bikini, in yoga pants . . . with her hair uncovered! This social media evidence of Ms. Vierra wearing forbidden yoga pants, in a country that requires women to wear loose abayas in public, was devastating at the divorce trial.

The court accepted his testimony at face value, she said, while hers was legally worthless unless she could bring in male witnesses to back her up. She tried to counter with videos of him that she said showed him rolling a joint to smoke hashish, talking on the phone about his marijuana use and screaming at Ms. Vierra, all with Zeina in the room. Though he acknowledged his drug use, he accused her in court of giving him the drugs and of forcing him to say he was an atheist, both of which Ms. Vierra denies.

In the end, the judge found both parents unfit to raise Zeina, awarding custody instead to the husband’s mother. But Ms. Vierra did not find this comforting; she said her ex-husband’s sister had testified that their mother had hit them and emotionally abused them as children.

“This is not just my story — there’s much worse. It’s hard to believe stuff like this can happen.”

The Independent article is here.

 

Mixing Religion and Divorce

Afreen Rehman, a woman living in India, was recovering from an accident when her husband sent her family a letter with the word “talaq” written three times. Their marriage was over under an Islamic practice which India just banned. Rehman’s case proves mixing religion and divorce has its detractors . . . and its fans.

religion and divorce

Your Fast, Low-Cost Divorce

Rehman’s husband relied on an Islamic law that allows a husband to annul a marriage by uttering the word talaq—Arabic for “divorce”—three times. The practice is commonly known as “triple talaq,” or instant divorce.

India’s Parliament passed a bill to criminalize the triple talaq. A man who imposes an instant divorce on his wife faces up to three years in prison. Not surprisingly, women’s-rights activists, Islamic groups, and different political parties are divided on the issue.

Many Muslim women’s groups have demanded the change, saying that the tradition of instant divorce is detrimental to them. But conservative Islamic organizations say the government has no business getting involved in a religious practice. Others acknowledge the change is needed, but say that it comes at a time when Hindu nationalism is the dominant political movement in India.

Instant divorce is not mentioned in the Koran, which says that a couple chooses separation once they have made all possible efforts to resolve their differences. The custom is attributed to the hadith – the record of the traditions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad – which is held in high regard by Muslims.

After the bill’s passage, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Parliament abolishes Triple Talaq and corrects a historic wrong done to Muslim women.”

Florida Mixing Religion and Divorce

I’ve written about the intersection of religion and divorce before. Religion, religious beliefs, and religious practices are not specific statutory factors in determining parental responsibility.

Nor are religion and religious practices areas in which a parent may be granted ultimate responsibility. Instead, the weight religion plays in custody disputes incubated over time in various cases.

For purposes of establishing or modifying parental responsibility and creating, developing, approving, or modifying a parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration.

In Florida, a determination of the best interests of the child is made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family.

Clear as Tikka Masala

Rehmen’s case is not unique. There have been reported cases of Muslim men, such as Rehman’s husband, carrying out instant divorce through letters, text messages, emails, and WhatsApp messages — without providing alimony or financial support.

The government maintains that Muslim women are vulnerable both socially and financially because of an absence of reforms in the Muslim community. There is no official data on the prevalence of instant divorce in India.

But the passage of the Indian law also raises questions about whether the government should involve itself in what is essentially Muslim personal law. At issue is mixing religion and divorce. To account for a diverse population of different faiths, India’s constitution allows every religious group to formulate personal laws.

A Hindu would be allowed to follow Hindu rules for marriage; same for Christians, and a Muslim’s divorce comes under the purview of Muslim personal law.

The number of separated and abandoned women in India, at 2.3mm, is twice the number of divorced women. If the government were serious about women’s rights, some argue, it would introduce reforms across communities, rather than focusing on one religious practice pertaining to Muslims.

Opposition parties, as well as human-rights advocates, have condemned the practice of instant divorce, but say the ban feeds into the perceived marginalization of Muslims who feel threatened by recent attacks by Hindu vigilantes.

Some believe the legislation is a step toward replacing personal laws with a uniform civil code that would encompass all Indian citizens, irrespective of faith and also claim:

The bill takes away a chance at any reconciliation. Any man jailed because of the wife’s complaint will never opt for reconciliation. The bill leaves women penniless, children practically orphaned. If the man [is] imprisoned, how will he provide maintenance to his wife? The bill amounts to a state coercion.

The Atlantic article is here.

 

This is your Religious Prenup

A Detroit-area man must pay his former wife $50,000 under the terms of their Islamic prenup. Not only are prenuptial agreements on the rise among all engaged couples, they are also becoming very popular for religious couples. But is a religious prenup enforceable in the U.S.?

muslim prenup

Mehr Agreements

A Michigan man argued that a family court judge exceeded her authority by trying to resolve a religious issue in a divorce. In 2012, the husband approached Mohammed Ali and asked permission to marry Mr. Ali’s daughter.

They negotiated the terms of the arranged marriage. Mr. Ali proposed that defendant could marry his daughter if defendant paid her $51,000, a payment the parties referred to as Mehr, a traditional component of Islamic marriages.

He agreed to the payment proposed by Mr. Ali. The Wife considered the offer of marriage, on the financial terms negotiated by her father, for approximately one year and ultimately decided to accept the marriage proposal and the parties married in 2013.

Florida Prenups

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements and even about a religious prenup. Prenuptial agreements are about more than just resolving uncertainty in a marriage.

Any couple who brings any personal or business assets to the union can benefit from one. They are also important to have in place before a couple starts investing in businesses, properties and other investments.

A prenuptial agreement (or “prenup” for short) is a contract between people intending to marry. A prenup determines spousal rights when the marriage ends by death or divorce. This can be especially important in second marriages.

If you divorce without a prenup, your property rights are determined under state law, and a spouse may have a claim to alimony while the suit for divorce is pending and after entry of a judgment.

Without a prenup, if your spouse dies, you will have statutory rights under state law to a share of your deceased spouse’s estate and may also have a right to lump sum death benefits, or a survivor annuity under a retirement plan.

That’s where prenups come in. Prospective spouses may limit or expand these rights by an agreement. Prenups are also used to protect the interests of children from a prior marriage, and to avoid a contested divorce. Prenups can be very worthwhile provided they’re done right.”

The most basic of prenups should list an inventory of premarital assets that would stay with the original owner in case of a divorce. Florida has both case law and a statute to help lawyers, judges and the parties determine if a prenuptial agreement is enforceable.

Religious Prenup

Back in the Michigan case, it was uncontested that the Husband and Wife had only a verbal agreement for payment of $51,000, in consideration of marriage, until the day of their marriage ceremony.

During that ceremony, the parties signed a document that placed the contract to marry in writing. The one-page document signed by the parties was titled “Marriage Certificate” which is the basis for the religious prenup dispute.

The document stated that the Groom solemnly proposes to marry the bride and take her as my wife and agree to pay Mehr of $51,000 Later. Furthermore, the document stated that the Bride solemnly accepted the proposal.

During the course of the marriage, the Husband made several payments, totaling $3,900, toward the $51,000 mehr. In 2016, the Wife filed an action for separate maintenance and the Husband filed a counterclaim for divorce.

During the divorce trial, plaintiff asked the trial court to enforce the contract to marry and award her $47,100, the unpaid amount of the mehr.

The trial court concluded that the parties executed a valid, simple contract and entered a judgment in plaintiff’s favor in the amount of $47,100. In addition, the trial court granted the parties a judgment of divorce, denied the request for spousal support, and divided the parties’ marital assets.

Does Shariah Law Apply?

The Husband actually argued that the contract states on its face that it was made under Shariah law and that it was not made under any state law. But did the Mehr merely provide for a religious obligation or was it an enforceable contractual obligation under Michigan law?

The trial court clearly stated that it was not applying Shariah law, but was applying Michigan law to the parties’ contract:

“We are not interpreting or applying the contract between the parties under Shariah law, but are applying Michigan law to the review of the parties’ contract and the judgment of divorce entered by the trial court.”

In this case, neither the trial court nor this Court is required to resolve ecclesiastical questions. The trial court did not claim any power to grant the parties a divorce under Islamic law, but only the power to grant the parties a civil divorce under Michigan law.

The trial court did not decide the parties’ respective religious obligations under the tenets of their faith tradition, but only decided the parties’ respective obligations under long-established principles of Michigan contract law. Because this case does not require the resolution of any ecclesiastical questions, we conclude that defendant’s argument is without merit.

U.S. courts don’t enforce religious laws, be they Christian, Jewish or Muslim. U.S. courts enforce American law. As long as a religious agreement can be enforced without resolving theological questions it may be enforceable.

The U.S. News article is here.

 

Can You Lose Your Job in Divorce?

A court in Israel just ordered the nation’s largest commuter bus company to fire an employee because he refuses to divorce his wife. The company has 30-days to comply. Why would you lose your job for refusing to divorce? What if it is a religious divorce?

Religious Divorce

Divorce on One Foot

A Jewish couple from India, who have been married for over a decade, immigrated to Israel with their only child. The Husband has been accused of abusing his wife, and the situation worsened after they moved. Three years ago, the Wife filed for divorce, reconciled, and then renewed the religious divorce.

Israel’s divorce law is based on the Ottoman Empire’s old millet law. Unlike the United States, where divorces are handled by family courts, in Israel there are parallel courts involving divorce, the religious court and family court.

Additionally, divorce court may depend on which religious community you belong to because religious courts have jurisdiction of their own religious members. This means Muslims are divorced in Sharia courts, Christians divorce in ecclesiastical courts, and Jews divorce in Jewish courts.

In Judaism, religious law requires husbands to grant their wives a “get” – a Jewish bill of divorce to be a valid divorce. Ten months ago, a rabbinical court ordered the Husband to grant his Wife a divorce. But he refused, unless she waived her right to their joint property.

Florida Divorce and Religion

I’ve written about the intersection of religion and divorce a few times. Religion, religious beliefs, and religious practices are generally not considered in Florida divorces. Surprisingly for many, even when child custody is an issue, there are no specific statutory factors in determining custody on religious grounds.

Currently in Florida, child custody decisions are based in accordance with the best interests of the child.

As it relates to religion, Florida courts have decided that there must be a clear, affirmative showing that religious activities will be harmful to the child for religion to be a factor.

Egged On

The religious divorce court has imposed various financial sanctions on the Husband for refusing to divorce, including requiring him to pay his wife $410 a month as a sanction. But he still refuses to divorce her.

Last week, a panel of rabbinical judges granted the Wife’s request and ordered an Israeli bus company to fire the Husband within 30-days.

Yad L’Isha praised the decision. “Every creative solution like this gives great hope to other women that there are other ways to release them from the prison of their marriage”. Yad L’Isha is the world’s largest organization dedicated to helping women unable to obtain a Jewish divorce.

The Haaretz article is here.

Photo courtesy of Rickjpelleg

 

Triple Talaq Divorce Ban

The Triple Talaq allows Muslim men to leave their wives instantaneously by saying “talaq,” meaning divorce, three times. The thousand-year-old custom was just banned by the Indian Supreme Court.

Triple Divorce

I wrote about India’s controversial Islamic custom, and how the Indian Supreme Court was considering petitions that challenge Muslim laws governing marriage on the grounds that they discriminate against women, a charged issue that risks angering the country’s orthodox Muslims.

Among the petitioners calling for change is a Muslim woman whose husband, after 13 years of marriage, divorced her by saying “divorce” three times.

The Indian constitution protects gender equality, but on issues of marriage, divorce and inheritance, different religious communities are governed by their own so-called personal laws. Whether a person is subject to those laws is usually determined by their religion at birth.

Florida Divorce and Religion

In a Florida divorce, the court’s powers are found in the Florida Statutes.

Florida passed Senate Bill SB 386, which was approved by the Governor. Specifically, the bill prohibits courts in Florida from:

  • Basing a decision on a foreign law that does not grant the parties to litigation the same rights guaranteed by the Florida or U.S. Constitutions.
  • Enforcing a ‘choice of law’ clause in a contract which requires a dispute to be resolved under a foreign law that does not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by the Florida or U.S. Constitutions.
  • Enforcing a ‘forum selection’ clause in a contract which requires a dispute to be resolved in a forum in which a party would be denied his or her fundamental rights guaranteed by the State Constitution or the United States Constitution. 

There are now over 30 states which have considered some limits on the application of foreign law, either through legislation or ballot initiative.

 India’s Supreme Court Ruling

India’s Supreme Court banned the controversial Islamic divorce practice known as “triple talaq” in a landmark ruling last week. The practice, that stretches back over a thousand years, allows a husband to divorce his wife by simply saying the Arabic word for divorce, talaq, three times.

The five-judge bench did not unanimously ban the practice, which Balaji Srinivasan, one of the lawyers on the case, called “disappointing.”

Instead, three judges ruled that it was unconstitutional, while the remaining two judged that it should be up to the country’s parliament to pass legislation officially banning the practice.

“The majority decision is that triple talaq is banned in law,” said Srinivasan. “From now on in India, the law is that there is no practice of triple talaq which is held to be valid.”

The judge in the majority ruling concluded, on the basis of an act in 1937 that enshrined Muslim legal beliefs and traditions into law, anything that was “anti-Quranic” was therefore banned and didn’t deserve constitutional protection.

“triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Holy Quran and consequently, it violates Shariat … What is held to be bad in the Holy Quran cannot be good in Shariat and, in that sense, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has publicly advocated for a ban, added his voice to those celebrating the ruling. In a tweet on his official account, the prime minister called the court’s decision “historic,” adding that it “grants equality to Muslim women and is a powerful measure for women empowerment.”

The CNN article is here.

 

Divorce & Halala Marriages

For Muslim women who divorce, a number of online sites are charging thousands to have “halala” marriages where you pay to marry, have sex with, and then divorce a stranger, to reconcile with your first husband.

Triple Talaq Divorce

As the BBC reports, Farah – despite an abusive marriage, hoped things would change. Her husband’s behavior worsened – leading to him “divorcing” her via text message.

“I was at home with the children and he was at work. During a heated discussion he sent me a text saying, ‘talaq, talaq, talaq’.”

“Triple talaq” – where a man says “talaq”, or divorce, to his wife three times in a row – is a practice which some Muslims believe ends an Islamic marriage instantly. It is banned in most Muslim countries but still happens.

Farah says she was “absolutely distraught”, but willing to return to her ex-husband because he was “the love of my life”. She says her ex-husband also regretted divorcing her.

This led Farah to seek the controversial practice known as halala, which is accepted by a small minority of Muslims who subscribe to the concept of a triple talaq.

Halala involves the woman marrying someone else, consummating the marriage and then getting a divorce – after which she is able to remarry her first husband. But in some cases, women who seek halala services are at risk of being financially exploited, blackmailed and even sexually abused.

One man, advertising halala services on Facebook, told an undercover BBC reporter posing as a divorced Muslim woman that she would need to pay £2,500 and have sex with him in order for the marriage to be “complete” – at which point he would divorce her.

Florida Divorce Reconciliations

I’ve written about the intersection of religion and divorce before. In Florida, there is no law or restriction on reconciliation with your former spouse after a dissolution of the marriage. In fact, many people have re-married their former spouse after the divorce.

During a divorce, courts can issue orders to promote a reconciliation of the parties. For example, when there are children involved in a divorce, or when someone denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court can order you to consult with a marriage counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, religious leader, or any other person deemed qualified by the court and acceptable to the parties.

The court can also continue the proceedings to enable you to effect a reconciliation; or take other actions in the best interest of the parties and the children.

Criticism of the Nikah Halala

There is a lot of criticism about the Nikah Halala marriage. For example, the BBC reports the Islamic Sharia Council in East London – which regularly advises women on issues around divorce – strongly condemns halala marriages.

“This is a sham marriage, it is about making money and abusing vulnerable people,” says Khola Hasan from the organization. “It’s haram, it’s forbidden. There’s no stronger word I can use. There are other options, like getting help or counselling. We would not allow anyone to go through with that. You do not need halala, no matter what,” she adds.

Farah ultimately decided against getting back with her husband – and the risks of going through a halala marriage. But she warns there are other women out there, like her, who are desperate for a solution.

“Unless you’re in that situation where you’re divorced and feeling the pain I felt, no-one’s going to understand the desperation some women feel.

“If you ask me now, in a sane state, I would never do it. I’m not going to sleep with someone to get back with a man. But at that precise time I was desperate to get back with my ex-partner at any means or measure.”

The BBC report can be found here.

Sharia in Florida Family Law Cases

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Religious Divorces on Monday, August 25, 2014.

Divorce cases sometimes involve foreign laws: laws from other U.S. states, other countries and even religions. Can this include Sharia, or does a new Florida law prevent arguing Sharia in court?

Here is an example of how it can come up in a case. A woman from Egypt claims she married her husband according to Islamic law. The man tries to dismiss her divorce, arguing there was no valid marriage.

These are high stakes. If a judge rules they were married, there will be a divorce and she could receive alimony and marital assets. If there was no marriage, then the woman could be left with nothing.

To make the ruling, the judge needs to know what Sharia says about what a legal marriage is. The judge will also need to hear from expert witnesses on Islamic law before making a decision.

But what if Florida judges were could not even consider Sharia law (and other foreign laws) in making the decision. That may very well be the future the Florida legislature would like.

I’ve written about this before. Earlier this spring, the Florida Senate passed Senate Bill SB 386, which was approved by the Governor in May. Specifically, the bill prohibits courts in Florida from:

Basing a decision on a foreign law that does not grant the parties to litigation the same rights guaranteed by the Florida or U.S. Constitutions.

Enforcing a ‘choice of law’ clause in a contract which requires a dispute to be resolved under a foreign law that does not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by the Florida or U.S. Constitutions.

Enforcing a ‘forum selection’ clause in a contract which requires a dispute to be resolved in a forum in which a party would be denied his or her fundamental rights guaranteed by the State Constitution or the United States Constitution.

There are now 32 states which have considered some limits on the application of foreign law, either through legislation or ballot initiative.

The bill does not identify any law which would deny a person’s fundamental rights. So courts will likely determine the impact of the bill on a case-by-case basis.

Also, Florida’s bill does not mention Sharia. In fact, no religion is mentioned at all, so a challenge to the law requires application of the Lemon test, requiring both a secular government purpose and that the law does not facilitate excessive governmental entanglement with religion.

Senate Bill 386 can be read here.

Shari’ah and Foreign Laws in a Florida Divorce

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Religious Divorces on Tuesday, January 14, 2014.

If you are in a divorce, and have religious divorce issues or foreign laws you must follow, can a Florida court uphold them? Last year the Florida Senate tried to restrict courts from applying foreign law to disputes relating to divorce. The ‘Anti-Shari’ah” bill died in the Senate by 1 vote. So can we now start divorcing under Sharia law? How about Jewish or Catholic rules?

As the Volokh Conspiracy recently posted, a New York court last week had to consider Saudi and Sharia law, and it turned out the world didn’t end:

In Standard Chartered Bank v. Ahmad Hamad AL Gosaibi and Bros. Co., 2014 WL 96219 (N.Y. trial ct. Jan. 10, 2014) the Defendants tried to quash a subpoena because compliance would expose them to civil and criminal penalties under Saudi Arabian law.

The plaintiffs countered that Saudi law and Shari’ah law actually obligated a Saudi debtor to fully disclose its assets to its creditors. So the disclosure was consistent with Saudi and Shari’ah law.

The New York court agreed with the plaintiff.

There are times when Sharia, and other religious or foreign laws, come up in a divorce. Sometimes contracts will stipulate a ‘choice of law’. For example, a prenuptial agreement may designate “New York” as the jurisdiction whose law governs disputes arising between the couple.

Other times, a foreign law or religious custom is highly probative, and relevant to a case, so a court will want to conduct a review of any foreign statutes, case law, or secondary sources, and will have to rely heavily on expert testimony. Consider the Standard Charter case above.

This can be good thing, and a restriction on using foreign, and especially Shari’ah law, in courts seems counterproductive. Our legal system has been around a while, and does a good job of dealing with foreign and religious issues.

Florida Statute Chapter 61 is not being replaced by the Bible, Torah or Quran anytime soon. But as the New York court shows, sometimes foreign laws and customs can shed light on a Florida court’s ability to resolve questions of fact and law.