Sharia Marriage in the UK and the Problems Muslims Face


Islamic marriage ceremonies are not legally recognised in the UK which means that for Muslims to marry legally they must additionally register their marriage. The problem is, Muslims often either choose not to, or are unaware that they need to register the marriage, causing problems when relationships break down when they are living and married in England and Wales.

Sharia Marriage in the UK and the problems Muslims Face

Unaware of the Legalities

Britain's first female Islamic judge on a Sharia council, Amra Bone, explains that some people just aren't aware that the marriage isn't legally recognised. Speaking with The Times, she said:

"We always ask: 'Why have you not registered your marriage?' We are always stressing that need... But a lot of women are under the impression that their marriage would be registered if they have an Islamic marriage."

The Implications

We are able to fully support victims of domestic violence, but with the element of divorce and/or finances, our hands are tied if the marriage wasn't registered. Jenine Abdo, our solicitor specialising in family law, has first-hand experience working with women who have had an Islamic ceremony but did not register their marriage.

Legally, there is little Jenine can do to help these people. Jenine explains:

"Even if someone potentially is eligible for funding via legal aid or has the help of family members to privately fund proceedings, I am restricted in helping those who have married under Sharia Law."

"Often this is devastating news to women who seek legal advice and want to break free from an abusive relationship whilst helping and safeguarding their children or trying to apply for a financial settlement. I am unable to implement divorce proceedings on their behalf and as their marriage is not legally registered, the Matrimonial Act 1973 cannot be relied upon nor applies to those who have been married under Sharia Law making it very difficult if not near on impossible for people who seek a financial settlement upon religious divorce. It is really sad to see and also to try and explain to my clients, especially if they have been misled or are generally unaware of the implications of not marrying legally in the UK."

"What many do not realise is that they may like and enter into a religious ceremony, but they can also legally register their marriage in England and Wales too and this will safeguard them in future if necessary should they divorce."

How We Can Help

We at Simpson Millar LLP have a specialist team that handle all aspects of family law. We are experts in supporting victims of domestic violence, and work closely with domestic violence charities including the Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence and the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence.

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