Maher aka Muslim Marriage Contract

Date: 21 Nov, 2017| Author: Fred Streiman

We have written previously about the court’s recognition of a Maher, an Islamic Marriage Contract. For a number of years, these have been recognized by the Ontario Courts as being valid and enforceable.

However, the courts will look at these contracts like any other, examine their context and contents for their interpretation and application.

As an example, in the recent Ontario Court of Appeal Decision of Bakhshi vs. Hosseinzadeh, the question arose as to whether or not the 230 gold coins valued at approximately $70,000.00 that were due and payable upon separation were to be included in the global calculation of an equalization payment. As the readers of the website will note, an equalization payment is the method by which property claims between divorcing spouses (we mean married folks not common law) in government. Is the Maher money thrown into the pot and equalized, which in essence would negate it’seffect or is it an additional obligation of the Maher payor, usually the husband.

In this particular case, the Ontario Court of Appeal looked at the Maher contract. Distinguishing it from earlier decisions the court held that the Maher money was part of the collective pot/assets to be equalized. The court examined the actual contract and noted that the one in question made no provision that the Maher obligation was in addition to other rights.

Moral of the story, Mahers are important and those who enter into it must pay attention to its details. The courts will read and enforce them.