On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hunterdon County, Docket No. FM-10-151-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Reisner and Hayden.
Plaintiff, Kashif Ur-Rehman, appeals from the October 15, 2010 Family Part order dismissing his complaint for divorce and granting a judgment of annulment to defendant, Annila Qamar. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
We discern the following from the record on appeal. Both parties were born and raised in Pakistan. Plaintiff initially entered the United States on a student visa in 1995 and studied at various institutions of higher education for the next ten years. He obtained a bachelor of science in mathematics sometime prior to January 1999. In order to legally remain in the United States, he began to study computer science at the University of Texas at Dallas in 1999 and completed the program in 2002. Next, he began a Master's program in Business Administration at Southeastern Oklahoma University, obtained his MBA in 2005, and had permission to remain in the United States for a period for optional practical training, which expired on September 24, 2005.
During this time, plaintiff encountered financial difficulties and filed for bankruptcy on March 17, 2005. As a result, plaintiff had no credit and was unable to finance additional education through loans. He had no employer to sponsor a work visa. Plaintiff relocated to New York City shortly after the bankruptcy disposition and registered with a Pakistani Muslim matchmaker. Around the same time, plaintiff announced his intention to marry to his friends Muhammad Siddiqi and Azim Qadir.
Defendant, a naturalized United States citizen, was a pharmacist, and was thirty-two years old at the time plaintiff moved to the New York area. She was a devout Muslim and sought a traditional Muslim marriage with a Muslim man who embraced the basic tenets of Islam and wanted to have children immediately. Defendant's brother, Israrul Hasan, took charge of arranging her marriage since their father had passed away.
Plaintiff and defendant's brothers met several times after an initial introduction through the matchmaker in the fall of 2005. Throughout this time, according to defendant's testimony, plaintiff represented himself as a traditional Muslim and stated that he also wanted to have children immediately after the wedding ceremony. Plaintiff contended that he was always honest about the fact that he was not religious and maintained only a culturally Muslim status. He did not reveal his recent bankruptcy to defendant's family. After some time, based on the representations plaintiff made, all involved agreed a marriage would be advantageous. Hence, plaintiff and defendant's family began to make wedding plans.
Defendant's family proposed a wedding date in September 2006, but plaintiff insisted upon an earlier date in March, even though he was unable to pay for the wedding. Plaintiff's last visa extension was set to expire in September 2006. In Pakistani Muslim culture, the groom pays for the wedding expenses, but plaintiff did not pay for the bride's gown or the wedding and only paid for only a portion of the reception. Despite these issues, the parties were married on March 17, 2006.
Neither party disputed that marital discord arose immediately. Defendant maintained that plaintiff insisted she petition for his United States citizenship a few days after the wedding. Defendant acknowledged that a major point of contention was that she could not accept plaintiff's lack of religious commitment. According to plaintiff, she nagged him relentlessly on this issue and humiliated him for not strictly following the tenets of Islam.
Another cause of defendant's consternation was plaintiff's refusal to engage in unprotected sexual relations. Defendant contended that prior to the wedding plaintiff had told her and her brothers that he wanted to start a family immediately. On the other hand, plaintiff claimed defendant never mentioned children during marriage negotiations.
The parties agreed that after the wedding, plaintiff ceased voluntarily spending time with defendant and her family and instead spent his free time with his friends. Defendant claimed he was warm and hospitable to her and her family prior to the wedding, but soon thereafter became cold and cruel. Plaintiff submitted that he became disinterested and avoided defendant's company because of countless incidents in which she berated him about his lack of religious devotion and inability to find steady employment to support a family. Plaintiff did not allow defendant to have any contact with his family at any time, and never told defendant that he had a sister residing in Texas.
From the beginning of the marriage, plaintiff refused to allow defendant to have a key to the parties' mailbox. In March 2007, plaintiff obtained his United States permanent resident card (green card), but never informed defendant. Shortly thereafter, again without telling defendant, he applied to and was accepted into the School of Management at the University of Texas at ...