..::Laws of Muslim Marriages and Divorce in Pakistan

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Under-age Marriages:

The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 has made under-age marriages a  penal offences. Under the Act the minimum age of marriage for a male is 18 years whereas the minimum age of marriage for a female is 16 years. Despite the fact that under-age marriages are liable to punishment, such unions are not rendered invalid.

Consent of Wali:

According to the Hanafi school, an adult woman may contract her marriage without the consent of a wali.

Registration of Marriages:

The Muslim Family Laws Ordinance (MFLO) 1961 introduced reforms regarding registration of marriages, and in default of such registration, penalties of fine and imprisonment have been prescribed. Nevertheless, Muslim marriages are still legal and valid if they are performed according to the requisites of Islam.

Court Marriage in Pakistan:

For Court Marriage in Pakistan the girl should be at least 16 years old and the boy should be at least 18 years old.

Telephonic Marriage in Pakistan:

The parties of the marriage can solemnize their nekah ( marriage ) over the phone. Their physical presence in Pakistan is not required.

Polygamous Marriages:

MFLO has also introduced some reforms in the law relating to polygamy. Now, a husband must submit an application and pay a prescribed fee to the local union council in order to obtain permission for contacting a polygamous marriage. Thereafter, the chairman of the union council forms an arbitration council with representative of both husband and wife/wives in order to determine the necessity of the proposed marriage. The application must state whether the husband has obtained consent of the existing wife or wives. Contacting a polygamous marriage without prior consent is subject to penalties of fine and or imprisonment and the husband becomes bound to make immediate payment of dowry to the existing wife or wives. Nonetheless, if the husband has not obtained consent of the existing wife or wives the subsequent marriage remains valid.

Divorce/ Talaq by the Husband in Pakistan:

Under MFLO limited reforms have also been introduced in relation to talaq. Under MFLO a divorcing husband shall, as soon as possible after talaq has been pronounced, in whatever form, giving a notice in writing to the chairman of the Union Council. The chairman must then supply a copy of the notice of talaq to the wife. Non-compliance is punishable by imprisonment and/ or a fine. Within thirty days of receipt of the notice of talaq, the chairman must constitute an Arbitration Council in order to take steps to bring about reconciliation between the husband and the wife. If and when such attempts to negotiate reconciliation fail, a talaq that is not revoked in the meantime, either expressly or implicitly takes effect after the expiry of ninety days from the day on which the notice of repudiation was first delivered to the chairman. If, however, the wife is pregnant at the time of the pronouncement of talaq, the talaq does not take effect until ninety days have elapsed or the end of the pregnancy, whichever is later.

Failure to Give Notice of Talaq:

Failure to notify, in the above stated manner, invalidated Talaq until the late 1970s and early 1980s, but introduction of the Zina Ordinance allowed scope for abuse as repudiated wives were left open to charges of zina if their husbands had not followed the MFLO’s notification procedure. Since the early 1980s, the practice of the Courts in Pakistan is that they validate a Talaq despite a failure to notify as provided under the MFLO.