Under German law, a person seeking a divorce must wait one year after separation from his or her spouse, except in cases of unreasonable hardship. Spiegel Online yesterday reported on a judge's decision in January holding that domestic violence and death threats by a husband against his wife did not meet the hardship criterion because the man and wife both have Moroccan backgrounds. In denying the accelerated divorce, the judge cited a passage in the Koran that some have interpreted as permitting a husband to beat his wife. The judge said: "The exercise of the right to castigate does not fulfill the hardship criteria as defined by Paragraph 1565 (of German federal law)." (Background on German divorce law.) However now that the wife's attorney has gone public about the case, a court in Frankfurt granted the wife's motion to disqualify the judge for conflict of interest.
UPDATE: In response to widespread criticism of the judge's decision to deny an accelerated divorce, the Court's vice president said that the judge "regrets that the impression arose that she approves of violence in marriage." (International Herald Tribune).
UPDATE: German lawyer Andreas Moser has posted more information on the case suggesting that the media have been exaggerating the holding. He says that the opinion focuses on whether the government will pay for counsel for the wife instead of requiring her to wait 2 more months to obtain her divorce after the 1-year waiting period. [Thanks to Dispatches from the Culture Wars for the lead.]