Aleem v. Aleem
931 A.2d 1123 (Maryland Ct. of Spec. App. 2007)

Facts:

  • Irfan and Farah Aleem were married in Pakistan.
  • After living in Maryland for over 20 years and having two kids, Farah wanted a divorce.
  • While the action was pending, Irfan went to a Pakistan Embassy in DC performed a “talaq” (divorce) in accordance with Pakistani law.
  • Under Pakistan law, the wife had no rights to property in her husband’s name.
  • He then moved to dismiss the divorce action on the ground that all issues had already been decided in Pakistan.

History:
After three trials, the court granted the divorce and ordered that the Husband pay 50% of payments from his retirement plan to the Wife.

  • While Husband wanted the court grant comity to the Pakistani divorce, the court refused.

Issue:
Whether the trial court erred in refusing to grant comity to a Pakistani divorce.

Holding:
No. Affirmed.

Reasoning:

(1) Maryland had a sufficient nexus to the marriage that took place in Pakistan to effect an equitable distribution.

  • The parties resided in Maryland for over 20 years, their children were born in Maryland, and wife was a permanent resident of the United States and was living in Maryland.

(2) Because Pakistani law was so contrary to Maryland public policy, no comity would be granted to the Pakistani divorce.

  • The “default” under Pakistani law is that Wife has no rights to property titled in Husband’s name, while the “default” under Maryland law is that the wife has marital property rights in property titled in the husband’s name.
  •  “The General Assembly declares…that it is the policy of this State that when a marriage is dissolved the property interests of the spouses should be adjusted fairly and equitably.”

Rule: In order to effectuate equitable distribution of a foreign marriage, the state must have a sufficient nexus to the marriage and, in order to grant comity, the foreign law must not be contrary to the public policy of the state.