Divorce in Pakistan

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Pakistan does recognize the right for both the husband and the wife to pursue a divorce. However, there are very strict requirements that must be met before a court will grant a valid divorce.

Pakistani Marriage Agreements

Pakistani marriage is a contractual agreement between two people only in a legal sense. The agreement of marriage is not a spiritual or religious binding in the eyes of the law and court systems. The religious aspect of the marriage does contain spiritual and moral bindings in the church. This means that though the court system sees the marriage as a piece of paper, the church recognizes the marriage. If the marriage is salvageable, it is encouraged by the court to keep the spouses together. If resolution cannot be obtained, then an agreeable dissolution is allowed.

Difficulty of Divorce for Women

Though a woman is able to and entitled to obtain a divorce, she may not know this. In the Muslim culture, divorce is frowned upon, and girls may be brought up not to consider divorce or worry about their dowry. Due to this cultural distinction, a woman may find it extremely difficult to obtain a divorce or information about her rights according to the relevant laws.

Acts that Allow a Divorce for a Woman

If a Muslim woman is seeking a divorce from her husband in Pakistan, there are several ways in which she can attain such recourse.

Under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act Section 2, various allowances provide for a divorce by the wife of a couple. If certain circumstances arise, divorce may be obtained. For example, if the husband has been absent for at least four years, the wife can request a divorce. Another ground for divorce in Pakistan is if the husband has not fulfilled his duty to financially support the household for at least two years.

If the husband marries another woman while married to his wife and his wife does not consent, the wife can request a divorce. Additionally, the man can be imprisoned for this particular act. Other grounds for divorce is if the husband was impotent before marriage and continues to be so, has a venereal disease or has not been physically intimate with his wife for at least three years.

Pakistan law recognizes the right for an adolescent’s father or other guardian to offer her hand in marriage. If she was married while under 15 years of age, the marriage was not consummated and the wife chooses to repudiate the marriage before she reaches 18 years of age, the marriage can be dissolved.

Another ground for a woman to be granted divorce is if the husband is considered to be “unduly severe.” This means that the husband has abused his wife physically, emotionally, or psychologically on a constant basis, he is consorting with other immoral females or is being disreputable, he endeavors to coerce his wife into leading his disreputable type of life, he stops her from recourse against his theft of possessions, he does not allow her freedom of religious exercise, or he does not treat her with equal measure as his other wives.

Dissolution of Marriage by the Husband

If the husband chooses to get a divorce, he must comply with specific requirements. The husband has to provide a written notice to chairman of the court, and a copy must be provided to his wife. If he fails to comply with these requirements, he can be fined or imprisoned. Additionally, the divorce itself will not be recognized until he provides a written notice to the chairman for up to 90 days. The chairman will attempt to mediate a resolution between the husband and wife. If the wife is pregnant at the time that the divorce action is pending, the divorce will be postponed.


The wife is entitled to the return of her dowry if the husband initiates a divorce and in most cases if she is the one to initiate the divorce.


A wife may remarry the same man even after divorce. She does not have to marry another first to do so. If a man wants to marry a woman while still married to his wife, he must receive the consent of his current wife. If he marries another woman without his wife’s consent, he can be imprisoned for up to one year and fined.

Due to the complexity of legal issues involved in Pakistani marriages and divorces, individuals considering a divorce may choose to consult with a lawyer familiar with Pakistani law.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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