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In the eyes of the law, divorce is strictly a civil matter. For many couples, however, the practice may take on a spiritual element — if it’s allowed at all. In our last post on religious divorce, we examined the faith-based perceptions of divorce, along with the frequency with which marriages end in various faith traditions. Now, we’re ready to dive into the actual process of religious divorce.

Divorce Rituals And Procedures

While some faiths ban divorce outright, others provide a detailed framework under which spouses can end their relationship and obtain a fresh start. Islam, for example, offers a blueprint for divorce via khul’a. This procedure enables women to return the dowry, thereby initiating the divorce process. Women can also initiate divorce on grounds; if successful, they may be permitted to keep their dowry. Husbands who wish to pursue divorce must abide by the procedures of talaq.

Elsewhere, divorce rituals may take on a more symbolic form. At Japan’s Mantokuji Temple, for example, visitors are encouraged to write their desires for their breakup on small pieces of paper, which can then be flushed down the toilet. Museum director Tadashi Takagi explains that the temple has served as a place of refuge for women looking to escape unhappy or even abusive marriages.

When Religion Impacts Civil Divorce

While religious and legal divorces are generally separate matters, faith can influence some civil matters. This is commonly seen in custody and visitation cases, with some parents making specific arrangements regarding the faith traditions under which their children will be raised. In more contentious cases, faith may prompt contested divorces, in which one spouse may refuse to divorce based on his or her religious convictions.

Regardless of your faith, you deserve the support of a caring and compassionate attorney. Look to the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. for assistance through every phase of the divorce process.