Monday, April 23, 2018
Middle East

You & the Law: A breakthrough for mothers, and good news for families in Saudi Arabia

Author: Dimah Talal Al-Sharif | Special to Arab NewsThu, 2018-03-15 03:00ID: 1521059887495051100

Child custody cases are a serious concern because they touch on a cornerstone of every society — which is family.
Until recently, divorced mothers in Saudi Arabia had to go through a long and complex legal process to obtain custody of their children, notwithstanding continuous efforts by the regulator to speed up such procedures. In a qualitative leap in this regard, divorced mothers will now be granted automatic custody, provided both parents have agreed on the matter and there is no dispute between them.
The proposed procedure is that the mother should submit a request to the personal status court. The court will consider the mother’s eligibility for custody and will decide on her application without the need to file a lawsuit, as in the past.
Of course, once the mother has obtained custody, it will allow her to follow up with all government departments and agencies, including schools and the General Directorate of Passports. She will also be able to take action regarding the procedures of all governmental and civil authorities, except for traveling abroad with the child or children; this will require permission from the judge.
I strongly believe that this new measure will contribute to raising levels of family security. It can prevent families from engaging in hurtful conflicts inside courtrooms, which may adversely affect children in the long term, and can have an adverse psychological impact not just on children, but on parents too.
This measure will also greatly contribute to reducing the workload on personal status courts, which means decisions on other cases will be more expeditious and effective than before. It is to be hoped that this historic decision will be followed by a series of other decisions on family issues such as alimony.
• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

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