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English marriage law bias

View profile for Naomi Evans
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Under existing English marriage laws, minority faith marriages should be registered.   This would mean that couples who have a religious ceremony have to follow it up with a civil wedding in order that it is recognised as legally binding.   However, many Muslim couples are not performing the civil ceremony resulting in their union not being legally recognised. 

The present laws say that for the marriage to be legally binding, it can be celebrated only in approved buildings and cannot be “religious”.   Therefore, those who belong to a faith (other than Jewish, Christian or Quaker) need to marry the same person twice.   

A legal academic and lawyer has called for an update to the current marriage laws and has proposed a “celebrant based marriage system”.   This would remove the need for the marriage to be held in a prescribed building and will allow couples to marry according to their own wishes.    This would also do away with the need to marry the same person twice in two separate ceremonies. 

Many British Asians aspire to marriage but many consider the religious ceremony to mean far more than the civil ceremony.   However, it is the civil ceremony that provides the financially weaker spouse with some financial safeguarding.   There are some claims that following the religious ceremony the financially stronger person has got what they wanted from the religious ceremony so why would they follow it up with a civil ceremony?  If it fails the financially stronger party doesn’t have to give the other person anything.  This is causing huge problems when it comes to seeking a financial settlement as some Muslims are having to walk away with nothing due to their union not being considered legally binding under English law.  

Statistics show that 80% of Muslim couples under the age of 40 in the UK have not registered their marriages under civil law.   This is causing problems in the event of a separation and campaigners are calling for a change to the English marriage laws.

Our Family Law team at Franklins has a wealth of experience in supporting clients in dealing all areas of Family Law. Should you require any assistance in this regard please do not hesitate to contact us on 01908 660 966 (Milton Keynes) or 01604 828 282 for a confidential conversation on how we can help.

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