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Pending Michigan bills may impact family law matters

Legislation is a funny thing. Many bills pushed before state legislatures have good intentions but also unintended or unforeseen consequences. Sometimes these residual effects play a part in family law issues.

Currently, there is mounting pressure against Michigan’s governor to veto a bill that block usage of Islamic law, in the case that it actually gets to the governor’s desk. A Muslim rights group is pushing for the veto, while supporters of it say that the bill may protect many family law determinations, including those in divorce or child custody matters.

The supporters use examples from cases throughout the United States were there were conflicts between the U.S. law and Islamic law, or sharia law. Some of the cases included instances where foreign judgments on child custody and divorce issues that were upheld in the U.S. courts.

The bill is currently in the House and would ban the use of foreign laws that would infringe on constitutional rights within this country. Some people have dubbed the bill as anti-Islamic although it does not actually name the Islamic law sharia. Numerous other states have raised this same type of legislation and the governor of Kansas signed a similar bill into law earlier this year.

It’s unclear whether there will be a vote as the legislative session wraps up for the year.

It will be interesting to see how the legislation pans out and how the bill, if passed, will affect family law issues. Divorce and child custody determinations are a stressful and emotional time for many. Regardless of the outcome of the legislative session, families going through these processes should speak with a family law attorney to ensure that they understand the issues and that the best outcome for the family and children is achieved.

Source: Detroit Free Press, “Muslim rights group urges bill in Michigan Legislature be stopped,” David N. Goodman, Dec. 12, 2012

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