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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Religion and divorce

Politicians, some lawyers and many other people (not normally those who have recently divorced) bemoan that getting a divorce has been made too easy. Incidentally, that seems to ignore the appalling emotional and practical difficulties; I am sure nobody divorces for fun.

But is can be easy, even for experienced divorce solicitors, to forget that people of some religious faiths have complicated issues to consider quite apart from the ending of the civil contract.

I can certainly recall when someone of the Catholic faith faced considerable obstacles in getting a divorce and in the early days of my career as a divorce solicitor, we would often end up with no divorce but a judicial separation. So the marriage was “sort of” ended but not legally and remarriage was not possible. It’s not that long ago. It’s only a very short time that divorce has been made possible in Eire, too, presumably mainly for religious sensitivities.

The C of E seems to have no real qualms and only a civil divorce is needed. I suppose that is not surprising given that most believe the whole basis of the church was to facilitate a divorce for a King anyway!

In the Islamic faith there are very serious issues to be faced. Was the nikkah (Islamic religious marriage) legal in the UK? Has the husband pronounced a talaq (an Islamic divorce) and if he has is it legally binding in the UK? (For example, f pronounced here, it won’t be) Also, it is all very well getting a divorce in our Courts but if remarriage is wished for then a religious divorce is needed to.

In the Jewish faith it is similarly important to get your Get! If not, remarriage (within the faith) is not possible and there are likely to be serious consequences for your children for ever more. It is as serious as that. And the timing of the Get is important, too.

So, anybody advising divorcing couples should take care to consider the religious aspects. There are many traps for the unwary.

Andrew Woolley
Divorce Solicitor


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