IN THE MATTER OF THE MARRIAGE OF ALTAYAR
139 Wn. App. 1066
The parties were married in Amman, Jordan in July 2000 and signed a Marriage Certificate, or Islamic Marriage Contract. The Contract provided that the wife would receive a dowry consisting of one Quran and 19 pieces of gold in the event of divorce or death.
The wife filed for divorce in Washington state and sought all her rights under state law. The Trial Court found that the Islamic Marriage Contract was not a prenuptial agreement and applied state law to adjudicate all issues arising out of the marriage. On appeal, the husband argued that the Islamic Marriage Contract was a valid prenuptial agreement and therefore, the wife is only entitled to those items provided to her in the Contract. More specifically, that she only has rights to the Quran and the gold, nothing more.
Whether the Islamic Marriage Contract should be construed as a prenuptial agreement where the Contract provisions are unfair on its face.
The Appellate Court affirmed the lower court’s decision and ruled in favor of the wife. The Court held that a “[p]renuptial agreement is valid only when it is plainly shown that the transaction was fair.” In this case, the Court found that “the exchange of 19 pieces of gold for equitable property rights under Washington law is not fair, and [husband] presented no evidence to prove otherwise. Even if it were a fair agreement, there is no evidence that he disclosed his assets or that [wife] received any independent advice during the three days between their initial meeting and marriage.” Thus, the Court found that the prenuptial agreement was invalid.