The misinterpretation of 60:10

O you who believe, when believing women come to you as immigrants, you shall test them. God knows best about their belief. Then if you know them to be believers, do not return them to the disbelievers. They are not lawful for them nor are the disbelievers lawful for them. Return to the disbelievers what they had spent. There is no blame upon you if you marry them, provided you pay them their dowries. Do not keep disbelieving wives. You may ask back what you spent and they may ask back what they spent. That is God's judgement; He judges among you. God is Knowledgeable, Wise. 60:10

This Quranic verse is one of the verses that have been subject to misrepresentation by some Islamic preachers. What they did is use some of the words in this verse to enforce a court divorce on married couples if one of the two abandons Islam and becomes what they call: apostate.
The words in 60:10 which they base their claim on are:

1-
They are not lawful for them nor are the disbelievers lawful for them.
2-Do not keep disbelieving wives.

As a result, court orders for divorce have indeed been imposed in a number of Islamic countries on various married couples (against their will), when it was found that one of them has abandoned Islam. Such an act is without doubt against God's law. To establish the truth of this matter, we need to analyse the words in 60:10.
In the opening sentence of 60:10 we read:
"when believing women come to you as immigrants"
These opening words are extremely important for they clarify the following:

1- Who is God talking about.
2- Who is subject to the rules in 60:10.

God is speaking specifically about immigrating women
and not all women. As a result, whatever rules are given in this verse apply to emigrating women only. The words do not apply to normal wives of the believers because:

1- The wives of the believers are not immigrants.
2- The wives of the believers are not subject for the people to "test them".

Now let us examine the verse, word by word, so as to derive the correct meaning:

1-
When believing immigrating women come to the believers, the believers must first "test them" to determine if they are indeed genuine believers.

2-
If they are found to be genuine believers, the believers should not "return them to the disbelievers". That is because these women chose out of their own free will to leave their disbelieving husbands, to embrace Islam, and to dissolve their marriage.

3-
Now we come to the words:

"they are not lawful for them nor are the disbelievers lawful for them."

The error in interpretation of these words by some scholars is in the assumption that the reason they are no longer lawful (for their disbelieving husbands) is because their husbands are disbelievers. However, it can be shown with Quranic evidence that this is not the correct reason.
We read in the Quran that God allows all people to disbelieve if they choose to:

Say, "The truth is from your Lord", so whoever wills shall believe and whoever wills shall disbelieve.
18:29

God does not prescribe a penalty in
18:29 to be administered by humans on the ones who disbelieve. The penalty for disbelief is to be given by God and not by any human:

We have prepared for the transgressors a Fire
. 18:29

It follows that the penalty of an enforced court order for divorce, imposed on some couples, is indeed a violation of God's law.
Since disbelief does not justify an enforced divorce, then what is the reason that the immigrating women become unlawful for their disbelieving husbands?
The Quranic reason as to why they become unlawful is given in the following Quranic verse:

When you have divorced the women and they have fulfilled their interim, then either retain them equitably or release them equitably. Do not retain them against their will in order to be vindictive. Anyone who does that has indeed wronged himself.
2:231

In 2:231, God commands the men not to keep their wives against their will.
A man who keeps his wife against her will is thus doing something unlawful and against God's law.
As a result, the fact that the believing immigrating women left their disbelieving husbands and wished to disband the marriage, makes it unlawful for the husband to retain them (2:231). That is why their marriage to the disbelieving husbands becomes unlawful, and not because their husbands are disbelievers.

4-
After that, the believing men may marry the believing immigrating women as long as they satisfy two conditions:

1- Return to the disbelieving previous husbands the dowry they paid
"Return to the disbelievers what they had spent."

2- After returning the dowry of the disbelieving husband, it is also a condition for the believing new husband to pay the immigrating woman her rightful dowry
"provided you pay them their dowries"

5-
It only remains to explain the meaning of the words "Do not keep disbelieving wives". As it happens, these words have also been used by some extremists to enforce a court divorce on whom they call apostates.
Once again, we need to be reminded that the verse speaks only about marriage to believing immigrating women. Thus, we must understand these words in their correct context, which can be as follows:

An immigrating woman deserts her disbelieving husband and joins the believers. Her faith is tested and she was found to be a genuine believer. A man among the believers returns the dowry paid by the previous husband, and he pays the immigrating woman her dowry, then marries her. After marriage takes place, it is discovered that she is not a sincere believer, but she was pretending to be one only so that she would get away from her previous husband. In this case, God commands the believing husband not to keep her
"Do not keep disbelieving wives", and that he should divorce her.
The reason being that this woman married the believing man on false pretences.
Had her believing husband known that she was not a genuine believer, he would have known that marrying her is unlawful as per God's law:

Do not marry the mushrikaat until they believe. A believing slave woman is better than a mushrikah even if you like her.
2:221

And because the believing man was tricked by the emigrating woman, God instructs the husband:
"Do not keep disbelieving wives".