The treatment and enforceability of Religious Marriage Contracts and in particular, the Iranian Maher in Ontario or Canada, is a difficult topic for family law clients and Canadian counsel.

The Iranian Maher, Mehr, Mehrieh or Mehryeh, is a formal pledge by the male spouse to pay the female spouse a number of gold coins (usually called Bahar Azadi Gold Coins) which is then noted in Iranian marriage certificates. The Bahar Azadi coin or translated as “the Spring of Freedom” coin also known as “Imami”, is an Iranian bullion gold coin minted by the Security Printing and Minting Organization of the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran (CBI), replacing the Pahlavi Coin after the Iranian Revolution. The Bahar Azadi coin is chosen as the method of payment of the Maher as its value continues to change and increase with inflation and with the price of gold. It is distinct from other forms of religious marriage contracts in that it is payable upon the request of the wife at any time during the marriage or after separation. A separation is not necessary for a wife to seek her Maher, but generally speaking it is often in sought by a wife upon separation.

Does Canadian law pay regard to Iranian marriage certificates that have a Mehrieh or Maher clause?

The answer is yes but only if certain circumstances are met. The Court of Appeal has made it clear that Iranian marriage certificates may be regarded as marriage contracts, and if they are regarded as a marriage contract which meets all the requirements for a civil contract under provincial legislation, the Maher is legally enforceable even if the contract has a religious aspect. If the contract is was in writing, signed by the parties, and witnessed, and there was no oppression or unfairness surrounding the negotiation of the contract, then it is possible that the Maher is enforceable in Ontario but each of these types of cases are adjudicated based on their own facts and circumstances. As such, when asking your lawyer to evaluate whether your Maher may be enforceable under Ontario law it is always very important to have a translated version of your Iranian marriage certificate handy for review. In terms of whether the wife under an Iranian marriage contract will receive the entirety of the dollar value of the number of gold coins, that is a separate issue that requires a very careful analysis by the lawyer you choose taking into consideration all of your assets as part of that analysis.

If you need an assessment of your Iranian Maher and if you have an Ontario certified translation of it, please contact us today and speak with one of our Toronto Iranian Family Law Lawyers or Toronto Persian Family Law lawyers.

By Solmaz Separy, Managing Lawyer