High Court rejects devout Muslim’s divorce claims

family law

The High Court has rejected a devout Muslim man’s claim that he cannot divorce in the UK.

He had insisted that because he and his wife married in Pakistan under Sharia law a divorce could only be approved in that country. The man made this argument after his wife, a dual British and Pakistani citizen, filed a petition for divorce here in the UK.

Following a hearing in Birmingham, Mr Justice Francis dismissed the man’s claim and ruled that his wife was entitled to seek a divorce in England.

Accepting the man’s argument would have “far-reaching consequences”, the Judge explained. Had he done so, the wife “would be subjected to different rules of English law than people of other faiths or other nationalities living here”.

This would amount to “approving both racial and gender discrimination” Mr Justice Francis declared. If the husband’s claim was endorsed by the Court, it would state that his wife “should be treated differently from a British citizen who is not a national of Pakistan”.

As for gender discrimination, the Judge said that “the rights granted to men in Pakistan to secure divorces pursuant to the laws of that country are different from the rights granted to women” as the process is “more onerous” for women than it is for men.

However, the Sharia divorce system is by no means easier for women in the UK. There are around 30 Sharia courts throughout the country which advise on aspects of Islamic law and deal with religious divorce. In 2015 a legal scholar from Leiden University in the Netherlands claimed that these courts “are known to frustrate women in their requests” for a divorce. This behaviour keeps many Muslim women in “marital captivity” the academic claimed.

Photo by Ted and Jen via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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2 comments

Andrew - February 24, 2017 at 8:55pm

Where is this story from? Is there a report? Was he in person or did he find counsel who could put this forward with a straight face?

Masuf Gillani - February 26, 2017 at 4:39pm

Ive heard rumours Sharia Law will be recognised in UK law in the near future? Typically to give even more rights to women who always have the upper hand in court proceedings as they can get legal aid by making up DV allegations by lying to social workers and judges tend to always believe and side with them. Asian women are steorotyped by MPs as being the ‘abused victim” and hence alot of non UK citizens are playing the system to get right to remain and all rights that even a UK citizen who has worked and contributed to society get NOTHING and criminalised. Where is the equality and justice? (

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