Does a Civil Divorce Necessarily Constitute Talaq?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Farid Dingle


About 12 years ago, I went for a legal separation from my husband (for obvious reasons) after being married for 27 years. I asked for a divorce, which he refused, but agreed to leave the house in return for half the money of the flat. I had to buy him out, and our two boys decided to stay with me. Our wedding was in India, but when he came here to London, we never had our civil marriage done, but the separation was done legally here in court.

My question is, does this 17 years of separation nullify our marriage? Would he still have right in my will? What would I need to do so he has no right in my will?


Thank you for your important question.

A civil divorce does not necessarily equate to an Islamic divorce. It would depend on the words used and on the husband’s intention.

Talaq vs. Civil Marriage

Just as a civil marriage does not always equate to an Islamic marriage, similarly, a civil divorce does not always equate to an Islamic divorce.

Please see: Is a Civil Divorce an Automatic Talaq?

Without knowing his intention, it is not possible to decisively say whether or not you are still married Islamically.


If you are still married, he would be entitled to one-eighth of your estate were you to die.

If he is on talking terms with you or anyone in your family, I would advise getting more clarity on what he intended when signing the divorce papers.

The Apartment

You mentioned also that you paid him to leave the house. If you mean that you paid him half the value of the flat as a payment for the flat and that now the flat is in your name, that is all okay.

Otherwise, you cannot pay someone not to live in their own flat along with you: that is not a contract that Islam recognizes. If the latter is the case, and the house is still in his name, then you have a right to the money that you paid and may pursue legal means to get it back.

I pray this helps, and I pray that you find peace and success in your life.
[Shaykh] Farid Dingle
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years, he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.