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UPDATE: How Is Mahr Addressed in an Islamic Divorce in Illinois?

 Posted on September 13, 2023 in Islamic Divorce

Oakbrook Terrace Muslim divorce lawyer for marriage contracts

Originally published: May 17, 2021 -- Updated: September 12, 2023

Update: As described below, an Islamic marriage contract will sometimes be treated as a prenuptial agreement during an Islamic divorce. For Muslim couples who may choose to get divorced, it is important to understand what terms can be included in a prenuptial agreement (prenup). An experienced attorney can help them understand how the terms of mahr may be enforced by an Illinois court during the divorce process.

Here are some key areas that a prenuptial agreement can address in Illinois: 

  • Property division: One of the primary purposes of a prenup is to determine how property will be divided if a marriage ends in divorce. In Illinois, marital property is typically divided equitably between spouses based on factors such as the contributions each spouse has made during the marriage and the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of divorce. A well-drafted prenup or marriage contract can override this default rule and specify how assets should be distributed.

  • Debt allocation: Prenups can also address how debts acquired during the marriage will be allocated between spouses upon divorce. Without an agreement specifying otherwise, both parties may be held responsible for joint debts incurred during their marriage. 

  • Spousal support/alimony: A premarital agreement or marriage contract can specify whether one spouse will pay spousal support (also known as alimony) to the other after divorce occurs. The amount and duration of support can also be determined ahead of time. However, it is important to note that Illinois courts have the discretion to review and modify spousal support provisions in prenuptial agreements if they are deemed unfair or unconscionable. 

  • Business interests: If one or both spouses own a business or professional practice, a prenup can outline how ownership of these assets will be handled during a divorce. This may include determining ownership percentages, buyout options, and restrictions on transferring shares. 

  • Retirement accounts and benefits: A premarital agreement can establish how retirement benefits such as 401K accounts or pension plans will be divided between spouses upon divorce.

  • Inheritance rights: A prenup can address inheritance issues by specifying how property will be distributed upon the death of a spouse. Other estate planning provisions may also be made, such as creating trusts for children from previous relationships, ensuring specific assets remain separate property during a couple’s marriage, designating beneficiaries for life insurance policies, etc. 

Contact Our Oakbrook Terrace Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys

For Muslim couples, it is important to understand how the terms of a marriage contract may be interpreted during a divorce. For those who wish to make sure the decisions they have made will be followed, creating a separate prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may be beneficial. At Farooqi & Husain Law Office, our DuPage County Islamic divorce lawyers understand the issues that may affect couples in these situations, and we can help ensure that their rights will be protected if they choose to end their marriage. Contact us at 630-909-9114 to set up a consultation and learn more about the legal services we can provide to Muslim spouses or couples.

Marriages and divorces in the United States are handled according to the laws in the state where a couple resides. However, Muslim couples also abide by Shariah, or Islamic law, and this may introduce a variety of complex issues into an Islamic divorce. In some cases, this can lead to disagreements about how the mahr provisions of a marriage contract will be interpreted in U.S. courts. 

Marriage Contracts and Mahr Provisions

When a Muslim couple agrees to a marriage contract, the mahr provisions state that the husband or a member of his family will give certain property to the wife. Typically, there are two parts to the mahr: an advanced mahr, which is given at the time of marriage, and a postponed mahr, which is given when the marriage ends either through death or divorce. In some cases, the advanced mahr is a token item such as a single coin, while the postponed mahr is a more substantial gift of money, jewelry, land, or other property.

Depending on the interpretation of Islamic law, a wife may be able to receive the postponed mahr in some divorce cases, while in others, the right to mahr may be forfeited. A husband has the right to dissolve his marriage through the talaq process, and in these circumstances, the wife will usually receive the postponed mahr. If the marriage is dissolved through a mutual agreement between the husband and wife, or khula, the wife will often forfeit the postponed mahr. If the wife seeks a divorce through the tafriq process based on grounds such as abuse or abandonment, she may forfeit her right to receive the postponed mahr.

Because the purposes of Islamic marriage contracts are not always understood by non-Muslims, courts sometimes struggle to determine how to enforce their terms. In many cases, mahr provisions are treated as prenuptial agreements, even though they have a very different purpose. When reviewing these provisions, courts will determine whether they meet the requirements for enforceability under Illinois law. An agreement may be invalidated if a court finds that the parties did not enter into a marriage contract voluntarily or if one party was coerced into agreeing to the other party’s terms. An agreement may also be invalid if it is unconscionable and grossly unfair to one party.

Contact Our DuPage County Islamic Divorce Attorneys

At Farooqi & Husain Law Office, we have an understanding of both Illinois law and Shariah law, and we can ensure that they are followed correctly during an Islamic divorce. We will advise you of your rights related to mahr and other provisions of your marriage contract, and we will help you achieve a positive outcome that will provide you with the financial resources you need following your divorce. To get dedicated, knowledgeable legal help, contact our Oakbrook Terrace Islamic divorce lawyers by calling 630-909-9114.

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