The jurisdiction where you file your divorce can be of extreme importance. File in the wrong jurisdiction, and your divorce can be deemed a nullity. In Afghanistan, where divorce is taboo, the Taliban have started to void divorce judgments granted under the previous government.
Trouble in Kabul
Reports from Afghanistan are flowing in about women, who were abused for years by their ex-husbands, who have now had to go into hiding with their children after the Taliban tore up their divorce decrees.
A small number of women, under the previous US-backed government, were granted a legal separation in Afghanistan. However, when Taliban forces swept into power in 2021, husbands claimed they had been forced into divorce and the Taliban are ordering women back to their husbands.
“My daughters and I cried a lot that day. I said to myself, ‘Oh God, the devil has returned.”
The Taliban government, which imposes strict Islamic law, has placed severe restrictions on women’s lives that some have called “gender-based apartheid”. Afghan women have been denied education, restrictions on movement, and a lack of participation in the economy.
Importantly, lawyers say that several women have reported being dragged back into abusive marriages after Taliban commanders voided their divorce judgments.
Florida Divorce Jurisdiction
I have written about jurisdiction in Florida divorce cases before. In Florida, there is no common law right to a divorce. Divorce in Florida is formally called a “dissolution of marriage”, and the cause of action for dissolution of marriage is entirely dependent on Florida Statutes.
The only true jurisdictional requirement imposed by statute in Florida is to show that one of the parties to the marriage has resided six months in the state of Florida before the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage.
The importance of meeting the statutory requirement is important as it allows you to obtain recognition of your divorce judgment in other states under the full faith and credit clause of the United States Constitution.
Although Florida’s residency requirement sounds simple enough, it is a jurisdictional requirement which must be alleged and proved in every case. Failure to do so, renders your divorce null and void.
Bad News in Kunduz
According to the UN’s mission in Afghanistan, nine in ten women will experience physical, sexual or psychological violence from their partner. However, divorce is considered more taboo than domestic violence is in Afghanistan. Worse, the culture remains unforgiving to women who part with their husbands.
Under the previous US-backed government, divorce rates were steadily rising in some cities, where the small gains in women’s rights were largely limited to education and employment.
As awareness grew, women realized that separating from abusive husbands was possible.
Under the US-backed regime, special family courts with women judges and lawyers were established to hear such cases, but the Taliban authorities have made their new justice system an all-male affair.
Divorces under the new Taliban government are limited to when a husband was a classified drug addict or has left the country. In cases of domestic violence, or when a husband does not agree to a divorce, divorce is not permitted.
Child marriages are also an ongoing phenomenon in Afghanistan. In one case, Sana was 15 when she married her cousin who was 10 years older than her. With the help of a free legal service project Sana won a divorce from her husband in court — but her relief was shattered when Taliban commanders came knocking.
Threatened with losing custody of her four daughters, she returned to her ex-husband who by then had also married another woman. She escaped after he announced the engagement of her daughters to Taliban members.
The oppressive measures against women in Afghanistan are aggravating the economic woes of the country. A report by the International Crisis Group states that many western countries, and even private donors, have canceled donations fearing backlash from funding such an oppressive regime.
India’s NDTV article is here.