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After going through a ceremony of marriage most couples believe their marriage is valid and set about their lives together. However, that is not the case for couples who go through an Islamic ceremony. The Islamic marriage is not recognised by law and for couples to be married legally, they must have a civil ceremony as well as the Nikah.

However, a recent study for Channel 4 found that only 61% of British Muslim women go through the second ceremony. After all, why bother if you already consider yourself married unless you are contemplating divorce?

But this means that the many people who decide not to bother, cannot then access the family court to seek a division of assets. This means that they cannot ask the court to take into account the time they spent caring for children and they cannot seek pension sharing orders or spousal maintenance. It leaves them in the same position as unmarried couples, having to establish an interest in the family home if it is not in joint names. There are few rights for unmarried couples and there is no such thing as a 'common law marriage'.

This week Resolution, the association of family lawyers committing to resolving disputes in a non confrontational way, are aiming to raise awareness of the difficulties which unmarried couples face.

If you require advice in these issues please contact Sarah Ward on 01484 504 939 or

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