A couple's religion can often play a huge role in both marriage and naturally, divorce. If they choose to be, a husband and wife are morally obligated to adhere to the guidelines laid out for them by their religion. This can make the proceedings less flexible than in civil divorce, where both sides can negotiate and choose a solution that is best for both parties.
This crossroads of religion and divorce can best be seen in an ongoing dispute between a Muslim couple in Clearwater, Florida. The husband and wife were a part of an arranged marriage in Saudi Arabia. The couple had talked on the phone for six months before the husband finally traveled to meet her, and they married only a matter of days after. Two months after the marriage, the couple moved to Florida where the husband is now a successful Radiologist.
Unhappy with her marriage, the wife is now seeking a divorce. The husband, who no doubt makes significant money as a Physician, is now saying that the woman is only entitled to $20,000 in the event of a divorce.
His argument comes from the fact that the couple signed a Muslim marriage contract called a Sadaq. On this contract, the husband can also write down any gifts he would like to offer his new wife. In this case, the woman's dowry was $20,000. She had not yet received the money. The man said that's all she's entitled to.
The woman's attorney is disputing the legality of the Sadaq, saying that the couple must follow Florida law just like everyone else. Under state law, each spouse is generally entitled to receive half of the marital assets, and possibly spousal support. The woman's name is on assets like a Clearwater Beach home, bank accounts, vehicles and stocks.