"Islamic Divorce" and "Sharia Council" are two words which are often linked together. In fact many Muslim women who require an Islamic divorce automatically assume that the Sharia Council is the "go to" place for a fair and clear divorce process. But this isn't always the case.
It is important to recognise that Sharia Councils are not regulated under English law. In fact the Home Office recently refused proposals to regulate Sharia Councils due to the fact that Sharia Law has no jurisdiction in the UK.
So what does this mean?
Not being regulated means complaints about the Sharia Council are extremely common.
There have been many reports of Sharia Panels being highly dominated by members who pay little to no attention to the rights of the women applicants.
This leads to women being treated unfairly and sometimes being rejected their divorce for no proper reason at all.
Why is instructing a law firm is beneficial?
The answer is simple, law firms are regulated.
This means lawyers are bound by a duty of care to all clients. Therefore every action carried out by a lawyer must be done in the best interests of the client. This reduces the risk of client’s being treated unfairly or taken advantage off.
You may now be wondering how a law firm can help Muslim applicants with an Islamic divorce? - Especially considering Islamic divorces aren't legal.
This is why it's important to highlight that Law firms do actually work closely with a number of selected Sharia Councils.
The selected Sharia Councils are usually vetted by a law firm to ensure the standard of service provided is in line with the expectations and regulations of a UK law firm.
Integrity is a key point. The obligation to be honest and maintain strong moral principles means that it is very unlikely that a legal representative will allow the Sharia Panel to impose an unfair decision on their client. Instead they will be under a duty to challenge any wrongful decisions that may be made by the Sharia Panel
Law firm’s also have to ensure staff members do not allow their independence to be compromised. Therefore there is little risk that an applicant’s case will be subjected to undue influence from third parties.
Following the panel meeting, if an Islamic Divorce is to be granted, the panel will issue you with a formal divorce certificate similar to that of a Decree Absolute. At Winston Solicitors we always hold a duplicate copy on file for up to 6 years.
The simple answer is that it all depends on who you instruct. If you use a reputable firm/panel then the process should be both clear and organised. At Winston Solicitors the average time scale for our client’s from when their Application is submitted to a decision being made is 2 months compared to other firms who have a usual average of 8 months. It is important to note that not all firms/panels have a structured process which means the decision to grant a “Khula” can take up to a lengthy 8 months.
Yes, the Islamic Divorce panel have to satisfy themselves that your case is significant enough for an Islamic Divorce to be granted. Certain panels require face to face meetings, however this isn’t necessary. At Winston Solicitors we arrange panel meetings by way of video call, it allows our clients to feel at ease and relaxed in their own environment.
At Winston Solicitors we have helped many clients obtain an Islamic Divorce even in the circumstances where they could not produce their Nikaah certificate. So do not worry, you just need to be proactive. You must first try and contact the organisation that carried out your Nikaah Ceremony as they would usually hold a duplicate copy of your Nikaah certificate for their records. If this isn’t possible, then you will have to provide sufficient evidence to the Islamic Divorce panel so that they can be satisfied that the marriage actually took place. Winston Solicitors can help you with this.