Pakistani divorce recognized in Texas Court

The Court of Appeals recently gave a judgment recognizing a Pakistani Divorce decree in the United States. The case Ashfaq v. Ashfaq, 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 4305 revolves around a Pakistani couple who married and divorced in Pakistan but reside in Texas, United States.

The couple got married in Pakistan in December 2007. The husband, Mohammad Ashfaq, after staying a few months in Pakistan returned to his residence in Forth Worth, Texas. In around June 2009, after having received her visa, the wife, Fariha Ashfaq joined her husband in Texas.

The couple was not happy together and in late 2009, when the couple was visiting Pakistan, Mohammad divorced Fariha under Pakistani Muslim Law.

Post the divorce in Pakistan, both husband and wife returned to Texas and Mohammad remarried. Thereafter in 2011, Fariha filed a divorce petition in the Texas Court on the ground that a Pakistani divorce decree should not be recognized in the United States.

Arguments that Fariha raised were — the Pakistani divorce should not have been recognized “because it denies due process and is fundamentally unfair” — thus distinguishing it from Canadian, Mexican, English divorces, which are routinely recognized in Texas.

However, the Texas Court rejected her petition and recognized the Pakistani divorce. Fariha appealed to the Court of Appeals, Texas who upheld the decision of the District Court.

Court Findings:[1]

  • The trial court did not err in concluding that the Pakistani Union Council had jurisdiction over the divorce proceeding between the parties where it was undisputed that the wife was a Pakistani citizen and the husband testified that he had dual U.S. and Pakistani citizenship.
  • The wife admitted to receiving notice before the divorce became final and the procedure prescribed by the Proceeding of Union Council under Muslim Family Law Ordinance 1961(7) satisfied due process.
  • The wife did not present any expert testimony in the trial court to support the conclusion that any flaws rendered the divorce invalid, nor was there any other evidence to controvert the analysis and opinion from the husband’s expert witness that the divorce was valid.

The Court also concluded-

“The question before the trial court was not whether the parties satisfied the statutory requirements to file a divorce petition in Texas, but whether to recognize the Pakistani divorce as a valid divorce that terminated Ashfaq’s marriage before Fariha filed her petition in Texas.”

Finally, rejecting Fariha’s argument, the Texas Court upheld that under Pakistani law, divorce can be granted if the parties are Pakistani residents or Pakistani citizens, “regardless of whether they live in another country, whether permanently or for a fixed time.”

[1] 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 4305

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