Iran Divorce & Family Law

Divorce laws in Iran were changed in the late 1970s, but a large rise in the divorce rate in the country has led to recent changes which make ending your marriage more difficult. So, what are the divorce laws in Iran? How is child custody arranged following divorce? And what about the financial settlement? Here we answer these questions and more.

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Divorce laws and grounds for divorce in Iran

Until 1975, the right of divorce in Iran was only available to husbands. However, changes to the law now mean that both men and women can ask the courts for a divorce. Further amendments to the law came into force in 1992, meaning that you could petition for divorce under circumstances including:

  • Mistreatment on the part of either spouse
  • The refusal of tamkin (the Islamic duty to submit to your spouse’s will)
  • An incurable mental or physical illness
  • Any addiction that makes the continuation of married life impossible and constitutes a danger to the marriage
  • Desertion or leaving the marital home for more than 6 months without legitimate reason
  • Not providing maintenance to the other spouse
  • Husband’s bad behaviour
  • More than five years’ imprisonment
  • Infertility or contracting a sexually-transmitted disease
  • Husband’s polygamy if the first wife does not consent and if the court considers both wives are not being treated equally.

The 1992 reforms In Iran also made registration of divorce without a court certificate illegal. This means that a divorce has to be recognised by the court, so traditional methods of divorce such as talaq are no longer sufficient.

The divorce rate in Iran rose sharply throughout the 1990s and 200s and so recent changes to the law have been made in an attempt to make divorce more difficult.

Now, it is not possible to obtain a divorce by mutual consent invalid unless you have first attended state-run counselling. You must both attend family counselling centres, and only then will a judge be authorised to issue your divorce decree.

Child custody following divorce in Iran

After a divorce in Iran, mothers are typically awarded custody of children. However, the mother’s custody ends at the age of 7 for both girls and boys. At this time, custody will typically return to the father unless a court decides otherwise – for example, if the father is proven unfit to care for your child.

Similarly, if a mother is deemed unfit to provide for her children (financially or physically) then a court can award custody to the child’s father, or other next of kin.

When children reach maturity (typically at the age of puberty for boys and the first menstrual period for girls) they can decide who they wish to live with. Their choice is not limited to parents, as they may choose grandparents or aunts and uncles.

If you’re a woman and you remarry, you lose all rights to custody of your children.

The code in Iran allows contact between children and non-resident parents. If you don’t agree between yourselves regarding contact arrangements, a court will provide for the time and place of contact. If you fail to make your child available for contact, it is an offence and can result in imprisonment.

Child support in Iran is the responsibility of the father. If he dies or otherwise can’t provide (through incapacity) then this duty passes to the paternal grandfather. The court can enforce child support against a third party.

Iran is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. This means that if your child is taken out of Iran without your consent, or taken to Iran from their normal country of residence, there is no reciprocal arrangement in force to secure their return.

Financial settlements following divorce in Iran

Under the Iranian code, divorced wives are entitled to support from their husband during iddah (the period a woman must observe after a divorce, during which she may not marry another man). This lasts for three months. If you’re pregnant, you are also entitled to support until your child is born.

The code also provides for settlement of any unpaid dowry.

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