Kansas District Court First to Apply “American Laws for American Courts”
PLEASE NOTE: Tennessee was the first state in the nation to pass this legislation, Tennessee Law for Tennessee Courts. We led the way, and then were followed by Louisiana, Kansas and Arkansas. We ARE making a difference!!
A Kansas district court is the first to recognize the possible application of the American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) law in a case where a party sought to enforce a sharia-law based contract. ALAC was adopted in Kansas earlier this year and it is based upon the model legislation drafted by AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi. The case at hand, Soleimani v. Soleimani, involves an Iranian-American couple who had been married according to both sharia and later by state law. At some point the woman divorced her husband (for cruelty and abuse) and sought to enforce a sharia-based prenuptial agreement called a mahr. The mahr required the man upon a divorce that was no fault of the woman’s to pay 1,354 gold quare, which are coins valued at $500 apiece or the equivalent of $677,000.
In this case, the court held that the mahr was unenforceable for many reasons so the woman was not able to extract $677,000 from her otherwise bankrupt husband (obviously even if the woman had won, it would have been a victory on paper only).
Now, in most cases, sharia is used to abuse the woman. Thus, as the court pointed out in Soleimani, sharia allows the husband to unilaterally divorce his wife with but an utterance of “I divorce you” three times–a fiat divorce not granted to the wife. Also, the woman loses custody of her children automatically under sharia when the children are still quite young irrespective of the best interests of the children (the latter “best interests” being the U.S. and international standard). Finally, even the mahr is often used against the woman because the negotiated amount is typically a pittance and far less than she might receive under state law marital dissolution distributions, especially if the couple had amassed even modest means.
In Soleimani, it just so happens that this case was about the woman trying to enforce a sharia agreement against the man. The court in Soleimani produced a well-considered and solid analysis of the problems associated with applying foreign contracts based upon foreign religious laws like sharia. First, the court noted that the woman’s lawyer had failed to provide a properly authenticated translation of the Farsi-language document so there was no way he could actually ascertain the meaning or the legality of the document. Read more here.