Divorce Ordered by a Secular Court

By Mufti Shafiq Jakhura (Darul Ihsan Centre)
Posted: 7 Jamad-ul-Awwal 1430, 2 May 2009


I am a Muslim living in the USA. After 20 years of marriage my wife has filed a divorce case in one of the civil courts here. I am not willing to give her divorce but she is insisting on this. What would be the position of this court divorce according to Muslim law?

A. We are not aware of the reasons causing the dispute in your marriage and which are causing your wife to file for a divorce.

However, if a non-Muslim court issues a divorce based purely on her application and without you signing any relevant documentation or making any comments which may amount to a divorce according to the Shariah, then merely by them separating the couple and declaring a divorce, a talaq in terms of the Shariah will not be deemed to take effect.

However, if your wife has sufficient grounds for requesting a divorce and you refuse to give her this divorce, she is within her Shariah right to request for an annulment of her marriage and a committee of religious scholars and/or elders could hear her case and effect an annulment of your marriage after following the due procedure of such annulment. Such annulment would be equal to one talaq-e-ba'in and would require your wife to observe the iddat period after which she could remarry any person of her choice in accordance with the principles of Shariah.

And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best