There are a lot of reasons why a couple might choose to get divorced. If these couples were married within the rites of Islam, or if they are devout Muslims, these are the 10 things they should know.
1. Islam discourages divorce but, unlike some religions, does make provisions for divorce by either party.
2. Allah encourages the husband and wife to appoint arbitrators as the first step to aid in reconciliation in the process of divorce.
3. If the reconciliation step fails, both the man and woman are guaranteed the right to divorce as established in the Quran.
4. When a divorce is initiated by the man, it is known as Talaaq. The pronouncement by the husband may be verbal or written, but once made, there is to be a waiting period of three months (‘Iddah) during which there can be no sexual relations, even though the two are living under the same roof.
5. The divorce initiated by the wife is known as Khul’ (if the husband is not at fault) and requires that the wife return her dowry to end the marriage because she is the ‘contract-breaker’.
6. In the instance of Talaaq, where the husband is the ‘contract-breaker’, he must pay the dowry in full in cases where all or part of it was deferred, or allow the wife to keep all of it if she has already been given it in full.
7. In the case that the husband is at fault and the woman is interested in divorce, she can petition a judge for divorce, with cause. She would be required to offer proof that her husband had not fulfilled his marital responsibilities.
8. One legitimate reason for divorce is if there is immoral or unIslamic behavior on the part of a spouse. For example if one of the spouses, is involved in adultery or fornication. In that case, they have a right to separate and this is a legitimate ground for separation.
9. Another valid reason for divorce is apostasy on the part of either spouse. If a Muslim man or woman’s spouse leaves Islam, the marriage is null and void and the couple can no longer be together.
10. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Among lawful things, divorce is most hated by Allah.” (Reported by Abu Dawud) The spouses should avoid divorce as much as possible. If they have difficulties and problems they should try to work out their differences and seek help from their relatives, friends or professional counselors.