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Tarikonda v. Pinjari

Tarikonda v. Pinjari, 2009 WL 930007 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009) Court: Court of Appeals of Michigan

The Court, in favor of the Wife, denied recognition to a foreign divorce that violated the Wife’s rights to due process.

The Court, in favor of the Wife, denied recognition to a foreign divorce that violated the Wife’s rights to due process.

Husband and Wife, of Indian descent, were married in India in 2001. The couple lived in Michigan from 2006-2008. In April 2008, the Husband traveled to India and pronounced a written triple “talaq” (divorce by which a husband pronounces language such as ‘I divorce you’ three times). The triple talaq was recognized in India under Muslim personal law. In May 2008, the Wife filed for divorce in Michigan. The Husband filed a motion to dismiss the Wife’s complaint because of the existing Indian divorce, and produced a divorce certificate from India. The trial court granted the Husband’s motion and ordered the Wife to register the Indian divorce in Michigan.

The Wife appealed the trial court’s decision. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision. The court agreed with the Wife’s argument that the trial court should not have recognized the Indian divorce, because the triple talaq violated her due process and was contrary to public policy. In the Indian divorce, the Wife was not given prior notice of the divorce hearing, she was not represented by an attorney, and she had no right to be present when the Husband pronounced the talaq. The court cited the Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. and Michigan Constitutions as grounds for refusing to grant comity to the Indian divorce. Because women do not have the right to pronounce talaq, the triple talaq divorce discriminated between men and women. The court also agreed that given the differences in property division for wives under Michigan law versus Indian law (equitable distribution vs. property only in their name), it would be contrary to public policy to afford comity to the Indian divorce.

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