The State of MA has a 90 day waiting period after divorce in order to remarry. Is the Islamic/Muslim Nikah considered a legal marriage? Will someone be breaking the law if they were to have a Nikah ceremony before the 90 day period was over?
The issue is not really whether the Nikah is a legal marriage. The issue is really whether you are legally divorced. Massachusetts will not consider you legally divorced until the nisi period, 90 or 120 days depending on how divorced, passes. No state in the US will recognize any marriage done within that period because every state will give deference to Massachusetts' law on when the divorce becomes official and no state allows bigamy. My question would be whether the Islamic faith also would allow you to remarry if not yet legally divorced.
So, it does not matter if Massachusetts recognizes a Nikah as a legal marriage. It won't recognize ANY marriage as long as you are not yet legally divorced.
For what it is worth, however, in this country, all states create legal marriages through a state licensing process. Those marriages can be performed in a civil ceremony or they can also be performed through a particular religion's ceremony, and obviously people of the Islamic faith do get legally married through the civil process as well, just as those of other faiths do. If it is a purely religious ceremony conducted in the US without any state licensing, then no, I do not think it is legal. If it is conducted in a foreign country and the marriage is legal under the laws of that country, then yes, it will be recognized as legal here in all states. But again, it will NOT be recognized in Massachusetts or any US state if you are not first legally divorced. The 90/120 period is short. Just wait for it to pass before re-marrying and there will be no issue.
To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state (in WV, on inactive status as of 9/13), I practice on a day-to-day basis in Massachusetts. I answer questions in your state in areas of the law in which I practice, and in which I feel comfortable trying to offer you assistance based on my knowledge of specific statutes in your state and/or general principles applicable in all states. It is always best, however, to work with attorneys and court personnel in your own area to deal with specific problems and factual situations.
No marriage is a "legal" marriage unless you have gotten a marriage license from the town or city where you live. MAssachusetts does not recognize common law marriage, so the only way to get legally married to someone else is to apply for a license. After you get the license, the state requires a ceremony, but that can be civil or religious based on your preferences. You could theoretically get an unofficial religious marriage performed prior to the Nisi period, but this would have no legal effect and would not be a crime. You would have to get a marriage license and have another ceremony after the Nisi period was over to be legally married. Applying for a license before the Nisi period is up IS a crime. It's called bigamy.
I am a Massachusetts attorney and answer questions based on Massachusetts law. The above answer is for educational purposes only and does not create an attorney client relationship or constitute legal advice.
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