High-profile $100 million divorce case plays out in Houston court
HOUSTON – In Pakistan, you can get a divorce if a husband says I divorce you three times. In Islam, it's called "Talaq."
In this case both the husband and wife are residents here in Harris County and citizens of Pakistan. The husband filed the divorce in Pakistan and now the wife wants justice here in Texas.
"I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you" initiates the divorce in Pakistan much like Beetlejuice appears in fiction. It's that declaration that's sparked a hundred million dollar legal fight.
"It's whether or not the laws of Pakistan are in comparison to due process that you would have in the United States," said Bobby Newman, the wife's attorney.
After marrying in Pakistan, Hira Azhar and Mohammad Ali Choudhri moved to Texas in 2010. Pictures show a lavish ceremony in Houston.
Azhar's team says her husband sent her back to Pakistan in 2012 in hopes her American-Pakistani husband could help her gain US citizenship.
But in 2013, the divorce was filed. Newman says Azhar's husband sent her there as a ruse.
However, Rusty Hardin, Choudhri's attorney, says that's not our problem.
"What I really hope is that the Pakistani Courts deal with the Pakistani divorce," Hardin said, referring to Azhar's appeal of the divorce in Pakistan.
It's up to Judge David Farr to decide whether Pakistani laws match our laws here in Texas-.
The problem for Azhar is that the laws in her home country doesn't allow her to leave the marriage with much in her pocket, according to her legal team.
"The husband is worth tens of millions of dollars and he has to pay her $50," Newman said, referring to the estranged couple's marriage contract.
"We can't have every other country's laws just thrown aside just so somebody can come to America, that's really all that is," Hardin said.
If the divorce is upheld in Pakistan, the Azhar can still receive a division of benefits from Choudhri either by the ruling of this judge in Houston or in a separate appeal if the decision doesn't go her way.