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How can a religious divorce affect a civil divorce?

The UK courts have no jurisdiction over religious marriages and divorces, but they have made provision for those seeking to obtain a religious divorce alongside their civil divorce. The Matrimonial Clauses Act 1973, Section 10A prevents the Decree Absolute from being granted until the religious divorce has been obtained. This clause can be applied if a husband or wife applies to court to request that the decree absolute is not granted until their marriage has been dissolved according to their religious practice.

In Jewish law, neither spouse can remarry in the Jewish faith if they have not received a Get and there are consequences if the wife starts a new relationship or has a child with a new partner.

Similarly, in Sharia law, without the religious divorce, Muslims will find it difficult to enter into a new marriage and in some countries the wife will need her ex-husband’s consent to travel out of that country.

If you are a Jewish or Muslim couple living in the UK with a religious divorce, but not a civil one, you are still considered to be legally married in the eyes of the law.

Divorce and religion

Most religious practices recognise that divorce is sometimes unavoidable. At Stowe Family Law we have a team of family lawyers who have experience of dealing with multi-faith divorces and we can guide you through divorce, mindful of your faith and culture.

  • Jewish Divorce

    A Jewish couple wanting to separate and get divorced must go through the civil courts, but also the husband must provide his wife with a Get. This is a legal document which validates a Jewish divorce and without which neither can remarry in the Jewish faith. The Get is processed and finalised by the Beth Din (Jewish religious court) and a formal document is produced to confirm that the marriage has ended.

  • Islamic Divorce

    The British organisation that provides legal rulings and advice to Muslims is called The Sharia Council.

    Islam recognises 3 different types of divorce: one initiated by the husband, or one initiated by the husband acknowledging his wife’s infidelity, or one initiated by the wife.

    At the end of the process, a document is produced evidencing the end of the marriage in Islamic law.

  • Catholicism and Divorce

    The Roman Catholic Church does not recognise divorce. A marriage can only end if one partner dies or if there are grounds for annulment. It considers marriage a sacrament and therefore unbreakable. If a couple were to get a civil divorce, they would still be considered married in the eyes of the church.

Buddhism and divorce

Most Buddhists accept divorce and remarriage. The believe that an unhappy marriage may cause suffering and so they acknowledge that divorce might be the best option to avoid that suffering and make the parties happier. There is no religious context in their marriage ceremonies, so therefore no religious divorce is required and the divorce would go through the civil courts.

Sikhism and divorce

Under Sikhism, divorce is not encouraged and, in previous generations, Sikhs would only remarry if one partner had died. Many Sikhs today accept that a couple may divorce if they cannot resolve the problems in their marriage.

The grounds for divorce are listed in the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. The divorce petition is filed in the District Court within the jurisdiction of which the parties were married or dwell.

Help with your divorce

If you would like to talk to someone about your religious or civil divorce, contact us today to speak to our Client Care Team. Stowe Family Law’s expert team has experience in dealing with all aspects of divorce, and our solicitors can advise and make provision for religious processes in their advice.

You can rest assured that we have the specialist knowledge to ensure that your divorce is handled both properly and sensitively.

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