AKILEH v. ELCHAHAL
666 So. 2d 246

FACTS
The parties were married in Florida on December 26, 1991 in accordance with Islamic Law and executed an Islamic Marriage Contract. The Contract provided that the sadaq, or the Islamic prenuptial agreement, be a $1 immediate payment and a $50,000 deferred payment.  The document was executed by the parties, two witnesses and an Imam, a Muslim religious figure.

One year after being married, the wife contracted genital warts from the husband, who had never disclosed his illness to her.  The wife filed for divorce, seeking enforcement of the Islamic Marriage Contract, which required the husband to pay her the postponed $50,000 dower.  The Trial Court held that the sadaq was unenforceable because it lacked consideration and there was no meeting of the minds.  The Trial Court based its holding on the principle that the sadaq is intended to protect a woman from an unwanted divorce.  Since the wife willingly requested a divorce, she would not be entitled to the postponed sadaq.  The wife appealed the decision on the basis of the Islamic Marriage Contract.

ISSUE
Whether a prenuptial agreement is enforceable where there was no meeting of the minds at the time of execution but the parties subsequently married.

RULING
On appeal, the Appellate Court reversed the trial level decision. The Appellate Court held that “marriage is sufficient consideration to uphold an antenuptial agreement” and therefore, the contract between the parties was valid and enforceable. The Court further noted that the essential terms of the contract were agreed upon between the parties “in contemplation of a forthcoming marriage.”  The alleged differences in interpretation placed upon the sadaq by the parties had no impact on the enforceability and validity of the document. Specifically, the Court stated that “a subsequent difference as to the construction of the contract does not affect the validity of the contract or indicate the minds of the parties did not meet with respect thereto.”  Generally, the Court is hesitant to void a contract for indefiniteness when one party performs under the contract. Thus, the wife was entitled to the $50,000 postponed dower.

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One response to “

  1. Pingback: Zawahiri v. Alwattar: Is a Muslim Marriage Contract a prenup or a simple contract? | SHARIA INDEX

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