Monday, February 17, 2020

British Court Refuses Financial Support Orders For Non-Complying Religious Marriage Ceremonies

Under Britain's Matrimonial Causes Act, a party to a "void marriage" may obtain a decree of nullity from a family court which entitles the party, among other things, to seek an order for financial support.  In Attorney General v. Akhter, (EWCA, Feb. 14, 2020), Britain's Court of Appeal held that a party to an Islamic marriage ceremony held in a restaurant rather than a building registered as a marriage site and without other required formalities may not obtain a decree of nullity because the original ceremony not was not sufficient to even create a "void marriage."  The husband and wife had planned to follow the religious ceremony with a civil ceremony,  but never followed through on those plans. They remained together for 18 years and had four children before the wife sued for divorce. The court also posted a Media Summary of the decision.

Reporting on the lawsuit, International News quotes a critic of the decision
Today’s judgment will force Muslim and other women to turn to Sharia ‘courts’ that already cause significant harm to women and children for remedies because they are now locked out of the civil justice system.