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Ahmed v. Ahmed

Ahmed v. Ahmed, 261 S.W.3d 190; 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 4660 (2008) Court: Court of Appeals of Texax, 14th District, Houston

The court, in favor of the Husband, ruled that a mahr agreement signed after the civil ceremony but before the Islamic ceremony was not a valid premarital agreement.

Husband and Wife were married in a civil ceremony in November 1999.   They did not live together until after the Islamic marriage ceremony six months later in May 2000. During the Islamic marriage ceremony, both parties signed the “nikah nama” (marriage certificate) which included a “mahr” (dowry) provision of $50,000 in postponed payment.    During divorce proceedings in 2005, the trial court ruled that the mahr was a valid marital contract and awarded $50,000 to the Wife.

Husband appealed the trial court’s decision.   On appeal, the appellate court agreed with the Husband that the mahr cannot be enforced as a premarital agreement because the parties were already married at the time the mahr was signed.    The court stated that Texas does not distinguish between civil and religious marriage ceremonies as long as the legal requirements are satisfied.  Because the civil ceremony in November 1999 was valid, the parties were married at the time the mahr was signed. “It is the parties’ marital status, rather than a specific type of ceremony, that is significant.”

The Wife argued that in the alternative, the mahr agreement can be enforced as a postmarital agreement.  The Husband argued that the terms of the mahr agreement were too vague and uncertain to be enforced as either a premarital or postmarital agreement. The court held that the agreement did not meet the requirement under Texas law of expressing intent to convert community property into separate property. While the appellate court reversed the $50,000 award to the Wife, it gave the Wife another chance by remanding the case for the trial court to determine if the Mahr agreement is enforceable on other grounds.

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