The couple in this case executed an Islamic marriage contract containing a mahr (deferred dowry) in Iraq. The Wife is seeking to uphold/enforce the mahr provision. The Husband is seeking to invalidate it on the basis of a recent New York family court case that indicated the mahr cannot be enforced if it is not authenticated. The court distinguishes the other case in that the Islamic marriage contract was executed in New York, whereas this one was executed in Iraq.
“Here, the mahr was executed in Iraq and there is no dispute that the document is authentic and would be enforced in Iraq. New York has long held that comity should be extended to uphold the validity of foreign nuptial matters unless recognition of the judgment would do violence to a strong public policy of New York. New York’s strong public policy further favors individuals ordering and deciding their own interests through contractual agreements.” (citations omitted). ” The generally accepted rule is that” ‘[a)ll matters bearing upon the execution, the interpretation and the validity of contracts… are determined by the law of the place where the contract is made'”. “Moreover, in extending comity to uphold the validity of a foreign divorce decree, New York courts have generally recognized all the provisions of such decrees, including any agreement which may have been incorporated therein, regardless of whether the agreement was acknowledged in accordance with DRL §236(b)(3).” “The only modification of such a foreign agreement is permissible by a New York courts if required by reason of some compelling public policy.”
“In this instance, the mahr meets the criteria for application of comity as enunciated above. The husband never suggests that the mahr is not enforceable in Iraq or that its execution in Iraq was coerced or otherwise less than a voluntary agreement. To give comity to the marriage in Iraq – and all of its features -the Court must enforce the mahr and require the husband to pay the required second installment of the dowry.”