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Law School Case Brief

Aleem v. Aleem - 175 Md. App. 663, 931 A.2d 1123 (2007)

Rule:

If a Pakistani marriage contract is silent, Pakistani law does not recognize marital property. If a premarital or post-marital agreement in Maryland is silent with respect to marital property, those rights are recognized by Maryland law. In other words, the "default" under Pakistani law is that a wife has no rights to property titled in her 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. This conflict is so substantial that applying Pakistani law would be contrary to Maryland public policy. 

Facts:

Appellant Irfan Aleem (Husband) and appellee Farah Aleem (Wife) are nationals of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. While Wife was suing Husband for divorce in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Husband divorced Wife by talaq, in accordance with Pakistani law. The controversy concerns the Maryland court's equitable division of marital property in the form of Husband's pension. Husband is aggrieved because the Maryland court did not give comity to Pakistani law under which his divorce by talaq did not include any equitable division of marital property titled in his name.

Issue:

Did the trial court err in declining to recognize the division of marital property in that divorce that the husband obtained in the parties' native country of Pakistan?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The appellate court held any error in not accepting more formal evidence of Pakistani law was harmless because affidavits that Husband submitted as to substantive Pakistani divorce law were accepted as evidence of such law, and that law was so contrary to Maryland public policy that it was not entitled to comity. Maryland had a sufficient nexus with the marriage to effect an equitable distribution of marital property because the parties lived in Maryland for over 20 years, and the Wife was a permanent U.S. resident in Maryland. Pakistani law, which provided that the Husband had no duty to equitably divide marital property, was not entitled to comity. The parties' Pakistani marriage contract did not validly relinquish, under Maryland law, the Wife's marital property rights. It was no error for the trial court to decline to apply, under comity principles, Pakistani law in deciding the Wife's rights in marital property titled in the Husband's name because that law, refusing to recognize her interest in such property, was contrary to Maryland's public policy.

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