Divorce does not take place by merely signing divorce papers
Fatwa No: 325195

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I seek your advice to, if at all possible, save my marriage. In Q3 2014, I got married to my wife, who was actually my parents' choice, but we both really fell in love with each other. Then my parents started to resent her, said that she has an attitude, is not good with house chores, and is too weak to lead a life and things like that. A number of times, there was a big fight in the house as we lived together in same house, as is custom here. After Eid last year, there was a big quarrel, and my mom said some not very nice things to her, after which she left the house. Then my parents started saying that I should divorce her. She did contact me and asked me to keep her wherever I want, but my parents would not agree. At that time, I was to financially weak to rent her another house as I was indebted. So we waited till the end of the year. In the meantime, I tried to convince my parents. I am the only son to my old parents. The day I was going to take my stuff, my mother was asking me to leave but was also threatening that they would never meet me again and that they would go somewhere far away and that even in case of death no one would inform me. So I kind of got emotionally blackmailed and sent a message to my wife that if she wants, she can search for happiness and that maybe there is someone better than me. My father, without my knowledge, had already prepared a divorce notice on my behalf. So they said that the message already was a declaration and that I should sign the document. I was so confused and did not know what to do, so I agreed. They called two witnesses, and with tears in my eyes ,I signed in front of them. I barely even read what was written in it. Later, I found out that it contained three divorces to my wife as well as a clause that now that she was divorced, she became haram for me. The imam here says that if I signed the document, then it is now done and the three divorces are binding. The shock kept me crying, and I was mindless for a week, during which time my father posted the notice to her. Now, please guide me, is there any chance to save my marriage as I love my wife very much and cannot live without her?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The ruling in regard to obeying the parents if they order their son to divorce his wife differs according to the reason for it. If they have a valid reason to ask him to divorce her, then it is obligatory to obey them, but if they do not have any sound reason and it is just because of personal inclinations or out of stubbornness, then it is not an obligation to obey them. Please refer to fatwa 84808.

Writing the divorce is one of its metaphors and divorce in writing does not take place except with the intention of the husband, as has already been highlighted in fatwa 89894.

Among the metaphors of divorce, as well, is the expression that you wrote to your wife: “…if you want, you can search for happiness, maybe there is someone better than me.” If you did not intend divorce, then divorce does not take place.

As regards signing the divorce papers, some scholars are of the view that if this is not accompanied by pronouncing divorce, then divorce does not occur by just signing (the papers). The fatwa of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraheem Aal ash-Shaykh, former Mufti of Saudi Arabia, reads:

There is no doubt that this signature is not regarded as one of the expressions of divorce at all, nor is it a clear statement of divorce, and it is not one of the metaphors for divorce. It does not come under the heading of writing either, because the husband did not write that he was divorcing his wife so that it may be regarded as a divorce on the basis of writing. The most that can be said about this matter is that he wrote his name below the words written by someone else. If he did not say any of the words of divorce that were written on the paper mentioned, and he only wrote his name at the bottom, then it does not seem to us that divorce has taken place as a result of his signing this piece of paper." For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 314359.

Based on this view, divorce did not take place. Nonetheless, we recommend that you consult an Islamic Court.

Allaah knows best.

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