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Case of the Day: Khatib v. Murrar

The case of the day is Khatib v. Murrar (Ill. App. Ct. 2012). Lami Khatib and Najat Murrar were married in Jordan in 2000. At the time of the marriage, Khatib paid Murrar’s father a dowry of one golden dinar, and under the marriage contract there was also a deferred dowry of JOD 5,000. Khatib and Murrar moved to the United States in 2009, but they separated and Khatib moved back to Jordan alone. In December 2009, Khatib obtained a certificate of revocable divorce from the Religious Court of Sweileh. The revocable divorce gave Khatib the “right to return [Murrar] to [Khatib’s] matrimonial bond within the legally prescribed waiting period.”

Murrar had no notice of the proceedings and learned of them only when she received a copy of the certificate of revocable divorce. After she had notice of the revocable divorce, a certificate of final divorce was registered in the Jordanian Ministry of the Interior. Murrar sued for divorce in Chicago, and Khatib moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on the grounds that Murrar had already been divorced. Khatib was unsuccessful. He then sought recognition of the Jordanian judgment of divorce, and the Circuit Court certified the question for review by the Appellate Court.

The court held that the judgment could not be recognized. First, it was not entitled to recognition under the UFMJRA, because it was not a money judgment. Easy. Second, it is not entitled to recognition under the UEFJA, which in Illinois apparently applies both to sister-state judgments and to foreign state judgments. Here, the court held that the Jordanian proceedings had denied Murrar due process, which seems also clearly correct. Last, the court refused recognition under non-statutory principles of comity for essentially the same reasons.