Dowry arrangement in Egyptian marriage is subject to the statute of frauds in California.
i. FACT: Egyptian marriage in 1974. Dissolution in California after 17 years. The husband asserted written prenuptial agreement, i.e. one-page form in Arabic and signed by him and wife’s father, as her “representative” at the time of the wedding. The document provided for 25 piasters to wife’s father paid, and a dowry of 500 Egyptian pounds due to wife at divorce or death.” At trial the husband attempted to introduce by parol evidence that phrases “in Accordance with his Almighty God’s Holy Book and the Rules of his Prophet” and “two parties [having] taken cognizance of the legal implications,” signified a written intention on the part of the husband and wife to have their marriage, including property relations at the time of any divorce, governed by “Islamic law”.
ii. HOLD: “There is no reason the same requirement that the writing evidence with reasonable certainty the terms of the contract should not also apply to prenuptial agreements. The policy considerations behind the statute of frauds apply, if anything, with even more force to prenuptial agreements. Such agreements will often be litigated in the highly emotional aftermath of the breakup of an intimate relationship, and will involve subject matter far more personal and more likely to “strike home” than an impersonal real estate transaction. The temptation for selective memory is usually greater in domestic relations cases than it is in real estate deals. Given the need for reasonable certainty of terms and conditions, it is evident that the phrases “in Accordance with his Almighty God’s Holy Book and the Rules of his Prophet” and “two parties [having] taken cognizance of the legal implications,” no matter how much they might indirectly indicate a desire to be governed by the rules of the Islamic religion, simply bear too attenuated a relationship to any actual terms or conditions of a prenuptial agreement to satisfy the statute of frauds”. At 868-869