Civil or religious: all marriages are not created equal

The Wilkes Partnership is delighted to welcome Hina Qazi to the Family team as a Paralegal. Hina will be working alongside Sian Kenkre, Senior Associate, and Jackie Lee, Solicitor, servicing clients from our Solihull office.

Hina brings experience of Sharia law to the team, including an understanding of the pivotal role that the Islamic faith and culture plays in the context of marriage and divorce.

A recent ONS survey found that 61% of Muslim women do not follow their Nikkah with a civil ceremony. If the marriage subsequently breaks down the parties can find themselves in a difficult position as their rights are not afforded the same legal protections as those in a civil marriage.

Hina says ‘The Nikkah is an Islamic marriage ceremony. It is not, however, a valid marriage in English law unless it is followed by a civil ceremony. This leads to the common misconception that, upon divorce, the parties to the marriage have the same rights and responsibilities as a couple within a civil marriage. They do not.

“Legal rights in terms of spousal maintenance, pension sharing and division of matrimonial assets do not exist. Within the Family team at Wilkes we have seen cases where parties are left quite vulnerable at the end of an Islamic marriage, especially when children or ill-health issues are involved. It can become a lot more complicated to prevent this.’’

Hina is sensitive to the religious and cultural issues that can arise for clients. She provides support and advice, and works closely with them within the Sharia law process.

Whatever the circumstances and background of a marriage, taking early advice is key when a relationship breakdown or divorce is being considered. You can contact Hina at the Wilkes Partnership’s Solihull office at [email protected]. For advice on any family law matter, contact Jackie at [email protected]. They will listen to you and can provide detailed, confidential advice tailored to your individual circumstances.

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