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Unique Challenges in a Muslim Divorce

BY IN Divorce

Divorce among Muslim couples is on the rise.  Studies show this and we have noticed this in our firm as well.  Regardless of your religious or cultural background, a divorce will be one of the more challenging periods in your life.

For Muslim men and women, they are faced with additional challenges of their faith and tradition.    Muslim families typically have close relationships and a divorce will negatively affect the extended family. 

What Obstacles Will Divorcing Muslims Face? 

American Muslims can visit their Imam who may oversee their divorce process.  However, even if the Imam provides guidance regarding the property division, which they often do not provide, such suggestions are not enforceable or sometimes cannot be implemented. The legal process of dividing assets, especially such assets as retirement funds, and deciding child custody and child support, must be accomplished through the Circuit Court.   If couples made certain agreements as part of their Islamic marriage, such as by contract or Nikkah, a Circuit Court judge may uphold the agreement.  We wrote about this in another blog.

Michigan Child Custody laws require the courts to review several best interest factors.  One of the factors requires the court to review both parents’ capacity and disposition to continue raising the child in his or her religion.  Because divorce is stressful to the children as well, it is important that the least amount of disruptions occur which includes disruptions of their faith traditions.

A divorce judgment must include certain provisions according to Michigan law.  Additionally, a couple can negotiate on their own and agree to include certain expectations in the judgments.  They can request the court to add additional terms regarding the children, such as specific provisions regarding the children’s continued faith practices that both parents will continue supporting while living apart.

Muslim mothers have often sacrificed their careers and devoted the past years to child rearing.  Facing a divorce, they are concerned how to pay their bills and whether they need to re-enter the work force.  Muslim fathers have spent years focused on their careers to provide for their families and are now faced with limited contact with their children. Those are valid concerns and should be discussed with our family law attorneys prior to filing for divorce so that we can create a game plan and you can prepare a game plan for life following the filing for divorce.

You will need a specialized court order to divide your retirement funds, such as a 401k or 403(b) retirement account to avoid paying penalties which are normally charged by the IRS upon early withdrawal.  Such an order can be issued as part of the divorce process in the Circuit Court. 

Similarly, the title to the home can be transferred without transfer taxes when you obtain a divorce judgment from a Circuit Court judge.

Our Grand Rapids Divorce Law Firm Understands Your Challenges and is Here to Help

Several states, excluding Michigan, have passed laws specifically prohibiting judges from considering foreign law, such as Sharia law. A Circuit Court judge will order a divorce judgment based on Michigan law; however, a judge will consider your previous actions and lifestyle when ordering custody and visitation  of your children.  When considering alimony, the judge will consider your financial situation and lack of work history and your joint decisions which were made based upon your Islamic faith.  If you are considering a divorce, please contact us at 616-285-0808 to speak to our experienced divorce attorneys and learn about divorce and child custody so that we can create a game plan together for your future.