AFGHANI v. GHAFOORIAN
Record No. 1481-09-4
The parties were married in Iran after executing a “Deed of Marriage,” or a Marriage Contract. The document provided the following: “The gift of a tome of Holy Koran valued at 50,000 Rials [Iranian currency], a bar of rock candy, and the pledge of five hundred fourteen (514) full Bahar-e Azadi (Liberty Spring) gold coins remaining totally the liability of the husband who must pay the above-mentioned wife.” The fair market value of the gold coins is approximately $141,100 U.S. dollars.
The parties subsequently filed for divorce in Virginia. The Circuit Court construed the Contract as a premarital agreement and awarded the wife all provisions, including the 514 gold coins. On appeal, the husband argued that the property mentioned in the Contract should be equitably distributed as marital property.
Whether a Muslim Marriage Contract should be construed as a premarital agreement where there is “a binding contract entered by the parties.”
The Appellate Court affirmed the Circuit Court decision by enforcing the Marriage Contract as a premarital agreement. The Court noted that the Circuit Court based its decision on its finding that the gold coins were “due and payable under the binding contract entered by the parties,….” (Emphasis added). Additionally, the Appellate Court stated that “[i]n Virginia, parties are permitted to enter into premarital agreements, which are akin to contracts, in which they can “contract with respect to…[a]ny other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.”