Divorce and Family Law in Bahrain
Ability to divorce in Bahrain
British Muslim expatriates residing in Bahrain may divorce by the husband pronouncing the Tallaq, the wife through Khul’ or either through the applicable court process.
However, the only codified family law currently implemented in the Kingdom of Bahrain is Legislative Decree No. (19) of 2009 (the ‘Family Law’) which only applies to Muslims whose marriage contracts are executed under the Sunni sect. These statutory provisions set out the grounds and procedure for Sunni Muslims to divorce / separate in Bahrain (including expatriates).
Non-Muslim expatriates resident in Bahrain may only commence an application for divorce at the Bahrain Civil Courts, and the jurisdiction of the Bahraini Courts will be subject to the provisions of the Civil and Commercial Procedures Law. Where the Bahraini Courts establish jurisdiction, the Court will apply the laws of the nationality of the parties (usually the husband). It follows that non-Muslim expatriates will be required to provide legalized certified copies of all applicable laws, and their translation into Arabic, for use in court. This can be a costly and time consuming process.
Ensure your divorce is recognised in England
Muslim expatriates in Bahrain must ensure that a divorce by Tallaq or Khul’ will be subsequently recognised in the UK. A foreign divorce that is not recognised in England can lead to future difficulties such as bigamy (remarriage whilst still married), and allow for divorce and associated financial claims in England. In general, English law does not recognise a divorce of British expatriates abroad which was conducted outside the court process and without appropriate notice to the other party.
For financial claims after divorce, depending on the circumstances, a wife will generally be able to claim the deferred part of the Mahr (if applicable), financial support during the waiting period (Uddah), financial support and maintenance for their children and a share of any jointly owned property.
Careful consideration should be given as to where would be the best jurisdiction to commence proceedings for divorce by those residing in Bahrain who also have a connection to another country such as the UK. Personally owning a property in England, or having a spouse own a property in England, or either party living in England for a period of time or any other connections may enable you to seek a divorce or financial claims through the English courts.
British expatriates choosing to divorce in Bahrain are advised to ensure that any financial agreement reached with their spouse be negotiated and drafted in a way that would be enforceable in England. Divorcing abroad without tying up financial matters can leave doors open for a spouse to claim a financial settlement after a foreign divorce under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984.
Contact our team for confidential and clear advice on the following issues:
- The recognition of your Muslim marriage in England;
- The recognition of your Tallaq divorce or Khul’ in England;
- Reaching a financial agreement that is enforceable in England;
- Obtaining a share of family owned property in England;
- Claiming maintenance and a financial settlement in England after a divorce in Bahrain; and
- Abduction of British children to / from Bahrain.
With thanks to Reem Al Rayes from Zeenat Al Mansoori & Associates for her advice on Bahraini family law, used to prepare this article. Reem Al Rayes, a specialist in family law in Bahrain, can be contacted at [email protected].