Ahmad v. Ahmad
No. L-00-1391

The parties were married in Jordan and both are Jordanian citizens.  The parties signed a Muslim marriage contract with a prenuptial agreement or “sadaq.”  The parties lived in Ohio for the duration of the marriage and no children were born to the marriage.  Eight years later, the parties were visiting Jordan when the husband decided to file for divorce.  Wife returned to Ohio and husband remained in Jordan until the divorce was finalized.  Upon her return to Ohio, wife filed a complaint in State Court seeking a divorce, alimony and equitable distribution.

Whether the Jordanian divorce decree was valid, eliminating the wife’s right to maintain a divorce action in Ohio.

At the trial level, the Court held that it had jurisdiction over the matter, based on the fact that the parties were residents of Ohio six months prior to the filing of the divorce complaint.   The Court further held that “[T]he Jordanian court did not have personal jurisdiction over [wife] and that the sadaq or antenuptial agreement was unenforceable under Ohio law because at the time the agreement was entered into, [wife] was not represented by counsel, there was no disclosure of [husband’s] assets, and the agreement did not take into consideration the assets subsequently acquired in Ohio during the eight-year marriage.”

In sum, the Trial Court stated that to the extent the Jordanian divorce decree severed the marital relationship, it was valid; however, as it pertains to the division of marital property and spousal support, the Court noted that the decree was silent in connection with these issues and highlighted the fact that the divorce was obtained without proper notice to the wife.  The Court continued, explaining that giving comity to the Jordanian divorce beyond the actual termination of the marriage would violate the public policy of Ohio.