Marriage & Divorce
Family laws in Pakistan are mainly governed by Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961, which applies to all Muslims residing in Pakistan and to all citizens of Pakistan wherever they may be residing, whether in Pakistan or at any place outside Pakistan. This law applies to all Muslim citizens irrespective of their sect, and it does not apply to non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan, and therefore they cannot claim any relief under it.
A marriage in Pakistan is solemnized if it is contracted in writing through a Nikah Nama (marriage contract). Under the law, the marriage must be registered with the local Union Council through a licensed Nikah Registrar of the Union Council. Nikah Nama is a public document, and any person can obtain a copy of it after payment of prescribed fee. Non-registration of a Nikah Nama with local Union Council is a procedural default, and would not normally invalidate a marriage. However, in case of a dispute involving validity of a marriage, non-registration of Nikah Nama would strongly support the argument that the marriage in invalid.
Haq Mehr is a legal right of wife payable to her by the husband. This right arises out of the marriage (through signing of Nikah Nama) taking place between husband and wife. It can be in the shape of cash, gold, land, jewellery etc. As per the legal conditions of Nikah Nama, haq mehr is a essential requisite of marriage and is always due to the wife irrespective of the fact that it has been mentioned in the Nikah Nama or not. If haq mehr is not fixed in the Nikah Nama it is known as ’mehr ul misl’, in that case the court will determine its value keeping in view the status of wife and the mehr given to her close female relatives. If haq mehr is mentioned fixed in the Nikah Nama, it could be of two types: A) ‘mehr moajjal’ i.e. prompt haq mehr which is given to the wife at the time of Nikah; or B) ‘mehr ghair moajjal’ i.e. deferred haq mehr which is give to the wife later. If nothing is mentioned in the Nikah Nama, then mehr is presumed to be mehr moajjal.
Under the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961, a husband is legally obliged to maintain his wife ‘adequately’ until the marriage subsists. Maintenance will include all necessary expenses for mental and physical well-being of wife, for example appropriate food, clothing, lodging and other similar expenses. This obligation on the part of husband remains intact even in case of separation, provided the wife has not separate unilaterally. In case of divorce, husband will be obliged to maintain wife throughout the iddat period. A wife can enforce maintenance rights either through a Family Court or relevant Union Council.
Dissolution of Marriage:
Both husband and wife have legal as well as religious rights to dissolve a marriage. A husband has the unilateral right of talaq. However, a wife can only dissolve the marriage unilaterally if a right to divorce has been delegated to her by husband in the Nikah Nama. In case no such right has been delegated to the wife in Nikah Nama, she has two other options to dissolve the marriage i.e. through khula or judicial divorce.
The law of inheritance in Pakistan is governed by the Muslim Personal Law, which assigns women a differential status. The general principal of the Muslim Personal Law is that the women sharer will receive half the share of a male sharer. However, the exact share allocation depends upon the particular circumstances of a case. A woman can relinquish her inheritance rights (the concept of ‘Tanazul’) through a written agreement, provided that the agreement is in writing, it is duly witnessed and is registered, and that it is signed by the surrendering woman out of her own free will, love and affection and she has not been coerced into signing the agreement. Any agreement which is signed by a woman under threat, duress or similar circumstances will be held void by the courts.
If you would like to seek further legal advice relating to a matter falling under family laws of Pakistan, we will be happy to assist you. We are a family laws specialist firm with more than 15 years of experience dealing with family law matters. Please feel free to Contact Us for further assistance.
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