September 14, 2017

Top EU Court says unilateral divorce by sharia must not be recognised

Top EU Court says unilateral divorce by sharia must not be recognised


A legal opinion issued by the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) said on Thursday that a unilateral divorce carried out by a religious court should not be recognised.

The case refers to the divorce of a couple, who both hold Syrian and German citizenship, and currently resides in Germany.

In 2013 the husband pursued a divorce via a religious court in Syria via a representative there.

The divorce was granted by the religious court, based on the husband’s declaration of intent only.

The wife acknowledged the divorce in writing, but contested it later, when her husband applied for recognition of the divorce in Germany.

According to the opinion published by the ECJ, the divorce cannot be recognised in Germany because it was declared without an acknowledgement by a public authority in Syria other than a religious court.

The advocate general added that according to EU law “a participating member state must apply its own national law,’’ if the foreign law does not provide the same access to divorce irrespective of the applicant’s sex.

The German judges had found that Syrian law does not grant the wife the same conditions of access to divorce as those available to the husband.

The verdict in the case is expected later in the year.

While ECJ judges are not obliged to follow the legal opinion, they usually do.