We’re married, right?

We’re married, right?

Marriage is often a thorny subject, but did you know that even after you go through all of the hoops to finally get married – you may not actually be “married”?

Let me explain.

Muslims get married by nikah, which is effectively a contract of marriage between two parties. This marriage is NOT recognised by English law if it was made in the UK. If, however, you had the nikah in a foreign jurisdiction (where it is recognised) the marriage will be seen as valid in the UK.

Confused? Let’s use an example.

Ahmed and Laila are both Pakistani and had their nikah in Pakistan. They then moved to the UK, their nikah is valid in the UK and they are seen as married.

Conversely, Adam and Sara, both of Pakistani heritage but living in the UK have their nikah done at the local mosque in the UK. Although they are living together and even have children together, their nikah is not recognised as a marriage in the UK. They would need to have a registry marriage as well!

If Adam and Sara had written a will after their nikah they would be wise to write a new will after their registry marriage.

This is because if an individual who has made a will marries, the will is automatically revoked on the marriage (sections 18(1), Wills Act 1837). 

However, there is an exception to this general rule. A will is not revoked by the testator’s marriage to a person if it is clear that both of the following conditions are satisfied:

  • At the time of making the will, the testator was expecting to marry, or form a civil partnership with, that person.
  • The testator intended that the marriage, or the formation of the civil partnership, should not revoke the will.

At any rate, it is important to ensure that if you have only had a nikah in the UK, that you write a will to protect your “spouse’s” rights and also that you regularly update your will and other paperwork.

Find out why making a will is your religious duty here