Are all religious marriages considered legal in the UK?

Over the years there has been much confusion about whether all religious marriages in the UK are considered legal in the UK Courts.

If you have a marriage for example in Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Sikhism in the UK, it is not considered legal unless it has been registered with the authorities. Sadly, there are many couples in the UK that have a religious marriage and believe their marriage is valid under English law, only to discover on events such as death and divorce that they are considered to be cohabitees. The differences between cohabitees and spouses are endless, but the main point would be that spouses have greater rights financially on death and divorce, and there is law to govern this.

However, if a religious marriage is conducted in a country where authorities consider it a legal marriage then it would be considered a legal marriage in the UK. For example, having a nikkah (Islamic marriage) in Saudi Arabia or a marriage in Hinduism in India, would be considered a legal marriage here. However, you will need a marriage certificate or a similar document issued under the law in force in that country. If the certificate or document is not in English it must have a certified translation or be authenticated by a statement of truth.

Referring to Islamic marriages, many Muslim wives are now discovering that their Islamic marriage in the UK was not registered at the time of marriage and it is not acknowledged by the court as a legal marriage. So, Muslim women who want a divorce through the UK courts process are finding themselves in a position where they cannot do so as they have no marriage rights and find themselves in a position where they cannot seek financial support from their husbands through the courts.

If you are seeking advice on applying for a divorce or financial advice upon divorce, then  please contact a member of the family department who will be able to assist you on 0116 255 4855.