(Family Court, Francis J, 20 October 2016)
Jurisdiction – Divorce – Pakistani nationals, habitually resident in England and Wales – Husband sought to challenge divorce
The husband’s application to dismiss the wife’s petition for divorce was refused.
The husband and wife were married in 1995. In 2016 the wife petitioned for divorce in England where both parties were habitually resident and, therefore, jurisdiction was founded pursuant to Art 3(1) of BIIA.
The husband, as a devout Muslim, had principled objections to divorce. He submitted that they were married according to Sharia law and that only Pakistan had jurisdiction to hear the divorce proceedings.
The court held that the English court undoubtedly had jurisdiction to hear the case and that the wife had been entirely within her rights to seek a divorce under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
The husband further sought a ruling that the court should determine that the proper forum for the divorce was Pakistan pursuant to the forum non conveniens rules.
The husband’s application was dismissed. It was highly material that both parties lived and worked in England despite the fact that they held Pakistani passports and had the right to reside there. The majority of the assets, including their pensions were held within the jurisdiction of England and Wales.
There could be no doubt that the proper forum to hear the divorce was the English court.The husband’s further challenge to set aside the certificate of entitlement to decree nisi was also rejected.