Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Islamic Divorces Not Recognized in France

The French courts now generally refuse to recognize Islamic divorce decrees. So reports the conflictoflaws.net blog. The typical cases before the French courts concern Islamic divorces obtained in Algeria or Morocco by husbands of Algerian or Moroccan origin who have emigrated to France. When the wife decides to sue for divorce in France, the husband travels to Algeria or Morocco for a quick Islamic divorce (talaq) under which the wife receives extremely low financial compensation. The husband then asks the French court to stop all proceedings in France because the parties are already divorced.

Until 2004, the Cour de Cassation (the French supreme court for private matters) used various specific grounds to deny recognition to most such divorces. The typical grounds were that the wife had not been called to the foreign proceedings or that the husband had committed a fraude à la loi by initiating proceedings overseas for the sole purpose of avoiding French proceedings.

However, in 2004, the Cour de Cassation ruled that Islamic divorces are in fundamental contravention of French public policy since they infringe the principle of equality between spouses that is mandated by the European Convention of Human Rights (Article 5, Protocol VII). In 2007 the Cour de Cassation issued similar rulings in five more cases, thereby making the rule firm.