Marriage and divorce cases COVID-19
Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Stock image

Abu Dhabi: A lawyer’s Facebook post, showing a contract between two spouses, which he called a “trial marriage”, has sparked controversy in Egypt.

Al Azhar International Centre for online Fatwa declared the contract null and void, while the Egyptian Dar Al Iftaa said on its Facebook account that the matter was under discussion.

The details of the contract shocked many, especially with its time limit of three years, and the stipulation of preventing the occurrence of separation or divorce during that period.

Marriage in Islam is an open ended contract.

This prompted the religious authorities and institutions in Egypt to verify it, and see the extent of its legality.

Controversial terms

In the contract drafted and published by the Egyptian lawyer, the man stipulated a set of conditions for his wife, including waiving her right to stay overnight, because the husband has another wife and family.

The husband also stipulated that the wife should not host her friends in the marital home, and that she be committed to housework, and in the event that she asks for a maid, she will bear the financial expenses. In addition the contract included the husband’s right to see the usernames and passwords of her social media accounts without objection.

As for the woman, she stipulated that her husband inform her if he decides to remarry, and have the option to choose between continuing with the marriage or divorce, while preserving her legal and financial rights.

She also stipulated that she has access to her husband’s financial, bank and social media accounts, and that he does not object to her completing university and graduate studies, provided that she pays from her own money.

The wife also stipulated that the husband must provide her with a private house, away from the family home within three years, and in the event that he fails to do so, she will be entitled to file for divorce, while preserving all her rights.

Not a marriage contract

Although Ahmed Mahran, an Egyptian lawyer, described the contract as a “trial marriage”, the matter is nothing more than a reconciliation contract between two quarreling spouses, who wish to separate.

Mahran explained in an interview with Al Masry Al Youm newspaper: “The initiative that I put forward is a reconciliation contract between two spouses, whose legal relationship is valid, but they want to separate because of the differences that occur between them, especially in the first years of marriage, so they sign a contract that has nothing to do with the marriage contract, and it includes the conditions that each party undertakes to adhere to in relation to the other by trial for a period, before the divorce between them takes place if the situation remains as it is.”

Mahran said he had the idea due to the large number of divorce cases in egypt. After a woman came to him asking for khula from her husband, he persuaded the couple to write a reconciliation contract, which includes some points that provoke their anger, and once it succeeded he published it to spread the benefit.

Khula is a procedure through which a woman can divorce her husband in Islam, by returning the dower (mahr) or something else that she received from her husband, as agreed by the spouses or court’s decree.

The Egyptian lawyer explained the reason why the term “trial marriage” contract was used even though it is not a marriage contract, which caused confusion in the Egyptian and Arab societies.

He said:“If I called it ‘a reconciliation contract between two spouses’ for example, no one would have paid any attention to me. At the same time, I noticed that all discordant couples used to repeat the word “experience” in their narration describing the period they spent during their marriage. So people left the content of the initiative and just criticized the term.”

Mahran added that this contract was not suitable for newlyweds, who can include their own terms in the marriage contract, while the initiative of “trial marriage” was originally meant for the couples who are about to divorce, not to marry.