Monday, December 15, 2008

Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Following the advice from several women friends who have come through some very messy divorces, today's blog is dedicated to suggestions as to what can be included in a prenuptial agreement; pre-nups are a legal part of any Muslim marriage - you can't get married without one.

Women, when the Mullah asks if there anything else you require during the wedding ceremony, take the opportunity to ask for it. This is your chance to state how you want your marriage to be conducted and what you would like in the unfortunate event of a divorce.

Thank goodness ignoring the pre nup agreement is NOT AN OPTION and whatever you include becomes part of a legally binding contract. I strongly advise any woman to think about their pre-nup carefully before the marriage ceremony. Make sure to state what you would realistically need, should things go wrong and you divorce {see wgaw blog archive: o7/o5} .

Divorce, in most cases within a Muslim marriage, can only be asked for by the man. Please note divorce courts in the Gulf Arab world are staffed by very old gentlemen and there doesn't appear to be a single woman judge in the family courts in the GCC. (would someone please correct me if I'm wrong on this)

My suggestions of what to think about including in a pre nup agreement are:

1. The Right to ask for a Divorce Should your Husband take a Second wife
Muslim men are legally allowed to marry up to four wives, at the same time. If the right to ask for a divorce is not stated in your marriage contract and your husband decides he wishes to take a second, a third or a fourth wife you will not, under any circumstances, be granted a divorce by the courts.

2. The Right to Visit your Children
Following a divorce the wife is always given the children to look after until they are aged seven. Once the child reaches seven years of age, (in Arab counting terms you are born aged 1) should you and your husband divorce, the children can choose who they want to stay with. Should they choose your ex-husband then you, as the ex-wife, will have no legal visiting rights to your children until they reach the age of 18.

3. The Amount of Money you Require Should you ever get Divorced
Think about this in the cold light of day before the ceremony. Be realistic; if you plan to have children they will need some support from their father, but please do not take this advice as a suggestion to take your man for a ride. At the wedding the mullah will ask you how much you require and will not accept the answer, “Nothing”.

4. The Right to half the Joint Property
Unless this is written into the marriage contract an ex-wife is not necessarily entitled to any of the joint property. If you decide to claim your half you could well have a long court battle on your hands. It took a friend five years of court battles to gain her half the house, following her divorce.

5. Also worth Thinking About
I've included this list because each one of the following points has been included in one or more acquaintance's marriage certificate. In each case, the women were able to use their marriage certificate as a legal document to stop difficult times:
a - The right to work and the ability to state who gets to keep what % of your salary
b - The right not to receive verbal, physical and sexual abuse by your husband
c - The right not to have children, or the right to have children
d - The right to visit your relatives in the country you reside in, or abroad
e - The right to wear whatever clothes you choose


desertmonsoon said...

Very useful post, I am surprised no one else has commented on it thus far. I wish I had known these things before I got married - of course I was so in love that I probably wouldn't have done it anyway because I thought nothing could ever go wrong between us...

by the way just out of curiosity - aren't there any grounds for divorce for a woman, without a pre-nup - like abdandonment?

wgaw said...


For a divorce to occur you'll need to prove to the court (depends where you live, in Saudi it is through the religious court, Bahrain it's through the family court) your husband has left you (you'll need witnesses), is not supporting you financially on a regular basis and he's not giving you any regular physical contact (your rights as a wife).

Your husband might decide he wants to prolong the court case for between 2-4 years (several girlfriends have had this experience), but you will, in the end, be granted a divorce.

Good luck and let me know how you get on.