Very simply, the answer is no. A Nikah is not recognised by the UK courts as a legitimate marriage. However, all is not as it seems.
A Nikah is an important part of any Islamic romantic relationship, so it makes sense you will want to know if Islamic marriage gives you the same legal protections as other marriage ceremonies in the UK.
In this article, we’ll examine the variables at play.
Planning for divorce
We know this is awful, as nobody starts their married life planning a divorce, but think of the couples you never thought would end who did. We all know someone who seemed so certain and so in love and whose marriage was a disaster and their divorce even worse.
Therefore, it is important that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking it won’t matter if your Nikah is legally recognised as marriage here because you’re never going to split up anyway. You can’t count on that, so you should enter any situation that ties you financially to someone as though it might end one day. Protect yourself.
If you don’t do this, you could lose your home, any savings you have in the bank, and your possessions. You could find yourself with no rights to anything you built with your significant other.
There are other important things to consider.
Where did your marriage take place?
If your Nikah happened in England and Wales, it needed to take place in a registered building, or else you will have to register your marriage through a recognised civil ceremony. That will make you married under English law, and it will mean you have legal protection if your marriage ends in divorce or the death of your partner.
You could also request that a registrar is present at your official Nikah ceremony.
If your marriage took place abroad, it might be recognised under certain circumstances. If the country you got married in recognises the Nikah as a valid marriage in that country, then it is also a valid marriage under English law when you return to England.
What if my Nikah is not registered under English law?
If your Nikah is not registered, then you are technically a ‘cohabiting’ couple. This means you won’t have the same rights as a couple in a civil marriage, which could mean you don’t have access to pensions and benefits in the event you divorce your spouse or they die.
If your Nikah took place in an unregistered building in the UK, then the courts cannot help you with financial provision, or to override legal ownership of a property if it belonged to your spouse.
If your Nikah was overseas in a country that recognises a Nikah as an official marriage, then you can get a divorce in an English court. You will have to file for a civil divorce to end the marriage officially in the eyes of the law.
My Nikah was official, who can file for an Islamic divorce?
Either a husband or wife can apply for an Islamic divorce. You can ask for a civil divorce even if you’re a woman whose husband refuses to give them a Talaq. The best thing to do in this instance is speak to a solicitor with the relevant experience, and they will help you navigate this complicated legal and emotional situation.
JMR Solicitors can help. Call 0161 491 3933, or email email@example.com.
What if my spouse dies?
Nobody wants to think about what happens if their spouse dies, but it is important you consider it if your Nikah is not recognised by English law. If your partner dies then any assets they own will be divided amongst family, and you will not count as family, which means you won’t get anything.
If you are legally married and there is no will, then the assets of your spouse pass to you.
JMR Solicitors can help
JMR Solicitors is an award-winning law firm based in Manchester and we can help you make sure your Nikah is legally recognised in England. We can also help if you think your marriage was not legally recognised and are going through a divorce.
Our team of experts are discreet, friendly and empathetic. We know this is a challenging time for you. You’re upset and stressed, and you might be worried about the future. You need a solicitor who is on your side, who has your back, and that’s us. We’ll guide you through this difficult time and work to get you the best possible resolution.
Call 0161 491 3933, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to a friendly and knowledgeable member of our team. We look forward to hearing from you.