That may be because the dowry had already been provided or was otherwise not at issue in the divorce. But U.S. courts do enforce them when all the elements of a contract are present and assuming no public policy concerns about the effect it may have on encouraging divorce, which is the one additional factor that the CA courts look at when deciding whether to enforce it. In your state, most of the appellate cases on dowry are quite old, prior to about 1930. There are a few cases since, but not a lot, indicating that the issue of dowry just doesn't come up much in modern divorce proceedings. So my bet is that you've not seen it because the few employees your employer had which which had entered into dowry contracts simply didn't raise that as an issue in the divorce. But they can be enforced in your state, too. The Appeals Court said in a case from just last year:But I am unaware of any situations where a US court has enforced one. I'm not saying there are none, but divorce decrees go past my desk as well and I can say with certainty that none of our foreign-born employees (of which there are thousands) ever provided us with a decree in which a dowry was enforced.
While no Massachusetts courts have reported cases addressing the issue of a mahr, or Islamic marriage contract, other States have done so. See Marriage of Obaidi & Qayoum, 154 Wash. App. 609, 226 P.3d 787 (2010), and cases cited. Since a mahr agreement may be enforced according to neutral principles of law, it may survive any constitutional challenge and may be enforceable as a contractual obligation. See id. at 616, 226 P.3d 787. See also Akileh v. Elchahal, 666 So.2d 246, 248-249 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996) (interpreting a sadaq, “a postponed *128 dowry which protects the woman in the event of divorce”).
Ravasizadeh v. Niakosari, 94 Mass. App. Ct. 123, 127–28, 112 N.E.3d 807, 812 (2018). The court goes on to say it was persuaded by the views of the other states the mahr contract is to be viewed and enforced as a contractual obligation.
I understand that for many Americans today the concept of dowry is foreign, outdated, and perhaps strange. So I'm not surprised that the instinctive reaction of some would be that surely they are not enforceable in the U.S. In the case of Islamic dowry arrangements, some religious bias might be at work in there too. But our Constitution does not allow the government to discriminate based on religious beliefs and customs. So while many Americans may think dowry contracts inappropriate today, that does not mean that those who do believe in them cannot still practice that belief.