With the decision in the case of Akhter v Khan, does this now leave Muslim women with no rights when it comes to divorce?
The case of Akhter v Khan looked at an Islamic marriage from over 20 years ago. One which was valid in the UAE, where the couple had lived previously, but it wasn’t valid under English Law.
The husband’s counsel had argued that their marriage was a non-marriage as it did not meet the requirements of the Marriage Acts. The wife’s counsel has argued it was voidable and therefore she would still have legal rights and a financial claim against her ex-partner.
The court found that an Islamic Nikah marriage performed in England didn’t comply with the requirements of the Marriage Acts, so as to make It valid under English Law.
In this case, however, the judge found in the specific circumstances, it was a void marriage and therefore the wife was entitled to annulment and therefore she had certain legal rights.
The case has far-reaching consequences for Islamic couples across a wide range of areas, as the court made it clear in many cases, it would be held that there was no legal marriage at all, meaning no legal rights will be held by the parties. This may also have complications for inheritance and cause issues even after a couple’s lifetime.
This new judgment draws a line in the sand for religious ceremonies needing to comply with the Marriage Acts and Islamic couples will need to consider their position carefully on whether they should seek a civil ceremony.
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