Alexandria, Virginia law firm demonstrates that foreign law sometimes has a place in US courts
Firm successfully represents appellee in Naseer v. Moghal (Va. Ct. App. Aug. 14, 2012)
21 Aug, 2012, 04:00 ET
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Virginia Court of Appeals recently handed down its decision in a noteworthy case, appealed from the Circuit Court of Fairfax County Virginia, in which Hamid Moghal was granted an annulment from his marriage to Tahira Naseer based on bigamy. The case gained notoriety because of the fact that the court referred to Pakistani divorce laws to render its decision.
Mr. Moghal, represented by Alexandria, Virginia lawyers, Thomas P. Silis, Mari P. Dorn-Lopez, and Stephen J. Whelan in his appeal, originally sought the annulment after he discovered that his wife had been married before in Pakistan and was not, under Pakistani law, legally divorced from her first husband. According to court documents, Moghal testified that he went to Pakistan and investigated his wife's previous marriage. There, he learned that she never fully divorced her first husband and was being charged with bigamy – which formed the basis of his asking for an annulment.
The documents go on to say that even if a couple obtains a religious divorce in Pakistan, they still must file the appropriate paperwork with Pakistani officials to obtain a legal divorce. There was evidence that neither wife nor the first husband ever filed the appropriate legal divorce paperwork, although the religious divorce had taken place.
The Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision. Commentary on the case has been extensive, due in part to recent claims by extremist organizations that Islamic Sharia law and laws of other nations are increasingly being applied in U.S. courts – especially in family law matters.
In this case, the interpretation of Pakistani law was necessary and valid to meet the standards of Virginia law – which calls for the application of the law of the jurisdiction where the marriage or divorce took place. The fact that there were religious and legal components to the relevant Pakistani divorce laws was a side issue to the central question: was Naseer divorced or wasn't she?
"This was an interesting case and one that stirred up many opposing opinions," says Mr. Silis, "but in the end, every decision was made on rational, sensible application of Virginia's own standards."
About Silis & Associates, PLLC:
Silis & Associates, PLLC is an Alexandria, Virginia (VA) law firm, located on 113 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, Virginia, serving Northern Virginia and specializing in Family Law, Business Law and Criminal Defense. www.silislaw.com
If you'd like more information about this decision, or to schedule an interview, please call Thomas Silis at 703-706-0075 or e-mail Mr. Silis at [email protected].
SOURCE Silis & Associates, PLLC
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