Family law, particularly in the area of marriage and divorce, has historically been strongly influenced by religious laws. In secular countries, which have a constitutionally mandated separation of religion and state, such as the US, there is nonetheless a strong impact of a variety of religious traditions and religious laws on the institution of marriage. A review of relevant legal jurisdictions on issues related to marriage and divorce reveals that civil court judges are often called upon to refer to religious law as it affects the rights and obligations of the parties. Members of various religious communities who wish to exit their marriages often turn to their clergy for information and counseling before they seek legal representation.
In countries which have varying degrees of religious law as part of their legal systems, it is the area of marriage and divorce, which receives the most input from traditional or religious sources today. This is due to the fact that on a practical, everyday basis, marriage and divorce is the area where religious law has the most impact. Thus in countries like Iran, Islamic Law determines the rights and obligations of the parties to a marriage as well as at the time of dissolution of the marriage.