Divorces that occur in Florida are not always marriages that occured in Florida. Many married couples in the state of Florida tied the knot either in another state or maybe even a foreign country. When a couple divorces many US states consider the law of the jurisdiction where the nuptials were made.
But in some cases there are exceptions.
The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee is reviewing a bill that would ban courts and other tribunals from considering the religious or foreign law of the originating jurisdiction of the marriage during a divorce proceeding. In place, Florida would be applied for such matters of divorce, alimony, division of property, child custody and support.
The current bill, introduced by Republican state Senator Alan Hays and Representative Larry Metz, is viewed by some as a direct affront to civil rights and individuals’ freedom of religion. Opponents see the bill as specifically rallying anti-Islamic attitudes to ban Sharia law. Sharia law is the Islamic moral code and is the law in numerous Islamic countries covering most criminal and civil actions including marriage and divorce. Sharia law applies in full as the de facto law of states including Saudi Arabia and Iran and influences the law of other major Muslim countries. The United Kingdom even allows for Sharia tribunals to mediate family law issues for consenting individuals and maybe soon will allow Sharia divorce in court.
Some basics of Sharia divorce:
Under Sharia law, a divorce is initiated once one partner says they want a divorce three times in a row. Different regions dictate whether this is a symbolic initiation or an immediate confirmation. Then the couple goes into a period known as talaq in which the couple is separated for three months. The man may insist on his wife’s return or if not the divorce is confirmed. One problematic factor of Sharia law is that a man may not be forced to pay alimony after the talaq period when the divorce has been finalized.
Similar bills in Florida have been proposed in the past, by the same two legislators of the current bill. In no instance has either proponent of the bill been able to cite a family law case where Sharia Law has been relied upon.
Last year, the 10th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals court invalidated an Oklahoma law that would have prohibited courts from considering Shariah law specifically. This specificity within the bill was likely its downfall, as it targeted a single group on the basis of a protected characteristic (religion). Proponent of the Oklahoma bill used as support a New Jersey case in which a judge refused to grant a restraining order for the wife because he was relying on the expectations of spouses as set out in Sharia law.
Florida family law attorney Sandy T. Fox is available to provide the experienced and compassionate insight you may need to solve any of your family law concerns. If you are in South Florida and want a confidential free consultation to plan your road ahead, Sandy T. Fox can help you through your family law issues. The Law Firm of Sandy T. Fox handles cases involving all types of domestic relations law matters, such as divorce, custody, separation and prenuptial agreements, paternity, or spousal and child support. To schedule your consultation with family law attorney Sandy T. Fox, please call our law office toll free at (800) 596-0579 or contact us through our website.
Permanent Alimony, So-Called “Anti-Sharia” Bills Die in Florida Senate March 14, 2012
Religion Used As A Parenting Plan Weapon During Divorce in Florida April 13, 2010
Fort Lauderdale Divorce, Religion And Minor Children May 24, 2009