Society and Norms: Family and Family Life - Marriage Laws

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Pakistan, like other Muslim countries, permits polygamy (i.e. marriage with one man and multiple wives). In Pakistan, polygamous marriages are more strictly controlled than in other Islamic countries. Recently, there has been polygamous marriage reform that mandates a man submit an application to a committee and pay appropriate fees. The man must prove the polygamous marriage is a necessity and that he obtained permission from the other wife or wives. If the man does not receive prior consent for the new marriage, he is subject to fines, jail time, and must pay dowry to the existing wife(s). Though the government will punish the man for not getting consent from his other wives for the new marriage, the government will still legally acknowledge the new marriage.

Men in Pakistan may divorce their wife by repeating "I divorce you" three times. He then must give written notice to the Union Council. A written notification will be given to his wife and if there is no reconciliation between the couple, the divorce takes effect after 90 days. As a sign of the technological times and increased use of cell phones, young men have begun to text "I divorce you" three times instead of declaring divorce face to face.

Women may also obtain a judicial divorce from their husbands without their consent if she forgoes her financial rights. Grounds for women to divorce their husbands range from imprisonment of their husbands to failure to perform marital obligations ranging from impotency to cruelty [5].

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