"Divorce in the Shari'ah"
"Generally speaking married couples make their best efforts to continue their marital relations in cordiality and happiness."1 There are those occasions where it becomes impossible for a couple to maintain a viable relationship (i.e. neglect, abuse, etc.). In these cases "the Shari'ah takes a very reasonable view of such an intolerable situation and instead of forcing the couple to stay together...." 2 it permits a divorce.
There are three kinds of divorce in Islam:
"Talaq is a right available mainly to the husband, but not to the wife. Even though Islam allows divorce, the Prophet (pbuh) says: 'Of all things that Islam has permitted, divorce is the most hated by Allah.' Hasty and wanton use of the right of divorce is regarded as most condemnable in Islam."3
Surah Al-Baqarah 229: A divorce is only permissible twice. After that the parties should either hold together on equitable terms or separate with kindness.
This could be liken to the three strikes and your out policy.
Talaq Al-Bida' (Divorce of Innovation): This was a type of divorce that made its appearance after the death of the Prophet (pbuh). It is where the man pronounces Talaq three times at one sitting or sends it in writing to his wife. This is a sin against the precepts of the Shari'ah and was severely denounced by the Prophet and Khalif `Umar would whip a husband who did such a thing.
Khul': This a divorce that is instigated by the wife. It is where she applies to a Qadi for divorce.
In the case of Khul', the wife must return all or part of the mahr. A case in point, where the woman would be allowed to keep the Mahr, is what Imam Malik said and that was if a wife was forced by her husband to enter Khul', she would be entitled to get the mahr back.
The issue of divorce is covered in more detail in the book Woman in Shari'ah (Islamic Law) by 'Abdur Rahman I. Doi.
1, Woman in Shari'ah (Islamic Law) by 'Abdur Rahman I. Doi; Page 81
2. Woman in Shari'ah (Islamic Law) by 'Abdur Rahman I. Doi; Page 81
3, Woman in Shari'ah (Islamic Law) by 'Abdur Rahman I. Doi; Page 84