When Sharia law meets the law of the land

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Dr Zaid Al-Saffar, a hospital consultant in the Midlands, yesterday had his appeal to overturn a Judgment made in his divorce proceedings dismissed by the Appeal Court.

The original judgment ordered that he pay his wife spousal maintenance, however after making payments for only a few months, he stopped them and decided to contest the order made. 

He had retained all of the equity in the matrimonial home and had felt that his wife should no longer be entitled to the spousal maintenance payments as she had received inheritance from her family after the parties had separated.  He had also paid her agreed Mahr (a Muslim bride's dowry) in full.

The Court of Appeal in this case again confirms that the English law must be applied to every divorce case dealt with in the UK.  However, contrary to Dr Al-Saffar’s claims, the Courts are also willing to take cultural and religious considerations into account when deciding what an appropriate settlement should be. 

In many cases, husbands refuse to pay a wife’s Mahr to them assuming that it cannot be enforced.  The Courts are willing to consider that the agreement to pay a Mahr is in essence a contract between the parties and can incorporate such payments into any financial orders made if appropriate.