Sharma v. Sharma
8 Kan.App.2d 726, 667 P.2d 395 (1983)

  • The Sharmas were married in India and moved to Kansas. They broke up and Mr. Sharma filed for divorce.
  • Ms. Sharma contested the divorce. She argued that under the Hindu religion, divorce is not allowed. Therefore the divorce violated her 1st Amendment right to freedom of religion.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed the divorce decree.
    • The Appellate Court found that, although the freedom of belief is absolute, the law may regulate conduct prompted by religious beliefs when the individual’s right of free exercise of religion is outweighed by a compelling State interest.
    • The Court noted that since Mr. Sharma didn’t share the same beliefs, it would be unfair to him to be forced to stay married because of the religious beliefs of another.
    • The Court noted that Mrs. Sharma was free to believe that ‘in the eyes of God’ they were still married, or that he husband was going to hell, or whatever. The Court was only dissolving the civil and legal parts of the marriage. The ecclesiastical parts were not their concern.
  • Basically, the courts can enforce secular laws and persons are free to believe things according to their religious beliefs under the 1st Amendment.