Iranians Are Having Fake Marriages to Receive Wedding Loans

Iranian media have recently reported on a widespread scheme involving fake marriages which enables couples to apply for wedding loans (also known as marriage loans). Some officials have blamed the growing trend on a proposal by the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) to raise the amount of the wedding loan.

“Raising the amount of wedding loans will increase the number of fake marriages and child brides,” the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported late last month, citing Mohammad Mehdi Tondguyan, the deputy Sports Minister in charge of youth affairs.

“Some people believe that increasing the wedding loan will not strengthen the institution of marriage,” Mr. Tondguyan said during a news conference marking Marriage Week. “Many couples apply for smaller bank loans because they cannot make a large monthly repayment. The monthly repayment on a $7,200 wedding loan is about $238. It is difficult for a young married couple to make that monthly payment.”

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Tondguyan added: “Even if we were to raise the loan amount to $12,000, it still would not prompt more people to get married. Majlis must study this proposal further since it insists on including the scheme in the country’s budget every year.”

A couple can apply for a $7,200 wedding loan at their local bank a year after they have registered their marriage. If approved, the bank splits the amount equally between the husband and wife. They must make a combined monthly repayment of $238.

There have also been instances of married couples filing for a divorce so that the woman could file a claim for a portion of her deceased father’s pension. According to the current inheritance law, a wife and her divorced or widowed daughter receive her deceased husband’s pension. If she dies the surviving daughter, then receive the entire amount until she marries.

The current pension for retirees is somewhere between $357 and $500 a month, which could tempt some women to start a divorce proceedings as a ploy to claim a portion of the money.

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“Some couples fake their divorce so the woman can receive a portion of her deceased father’s pension from the State Welfare Organization,” the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported last April, citing Naser Maleknejad, a member of the board of directors of the Tehran Retired Workers Association. “After registering their divorce, the couple enter a 99-year sigheh [temporary marriage] which enables them to continue to live together as a family.”

Mr. Maleknejad added: “We frequently receive complaints from the siblings of women who have faked their divorce to claim a portion of their deceased fathers’ pensions, causing great financial hardships to their mothers who receive only part of the amount. The children are concerned that their mother cannot afford to buy food and medicine with her reduced income.”

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]