Is your marriage really a marriage?

In a Court of Appeal decision that has dominated recent headlines, it was determined that an Islamic marriage alone is not considered a valid marriage under English Law. The resulting impact of this decision means that spouses who have entered into these ceremonies without the requisite civil ceremony have no recourse to financial claims upon their breakdown, as their union is considered a ‘non marriage’ by the court. As such, thousands of Islamic women who have undergone a religious ceremony only will find themselves in extreme financial difficulty following the dissolution of what they have always considered to be a true marriage.

The reality of the situation in this jurisdiction is that to be a valid marriage, any religious marriage must be accompanied by a ceremony reflecting the legal requirements of this country. It is shocking to note that almost two thirds of Muslim women have not had the required civil ceremony, meaning that in the event of the breakdown of their union, they will be unable to make financial claims as a spouse, leaving them in a financially precarious position, often after a long ‘marriage’.

This ruling throws into stark relief the need for parties to a marriage to be absolutely clear as to the criteria in their relevant jurisdiction that provides financial protection to spouses in the event of a marital breakdown. It is also likely to create the need for further scrutiny in respect of all of the individuals who are left without recourse to financial proceedings as a result of a ‘non marriage’.

Islamic faith marriages not valid in English law, appeal court rules.

Almost two-thirds of married Muslim women in the UK have not had a separate civil ceremony.

Islamic faith marriages are not valid under English law, the court of appeal has ruled, in a blow to thousands of Muslim women who have no rights when it comes to divorce.

The judgment, delivered on Friday, overturned an earlier high court ruling that an Islamic marriage, known as a nikah, fell within the scope of English matrimonial law.

The appeal court has confirmed that nikah marriages are legally 'non-marriagesĀ”, meaning spouses have no redress to the courts for a division of matrimonial assets such as the family home and spouseĀ’s pension if a marriage breaks down.