Divorced Saudi women can now retain child custody without filing lawsuits

The historical decision is part of the kingdom’s efforts to empower women

Women run during an event marking International Women's Day in Old Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Divorced mothers in Saudi Arabia will now be able to retain custody of their children without filing lawsuits, provided there are no disputes between the parents.

The historical decision to allow women to submit a request form to a court instead of fighting a long legal custody battle is part of the kingdom’s efforts to empower women as stipulated in Vision 2030 – put forth by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Sheikh Walid Al Samaani, Minister of Justice and President of the Higher Council of the Judiciary, released a circular to the courts officially announcing the new process, said the Ministry of Culture and Information on Monday.

“The Higher Council of the Judiciary has studied the matter and decided that a mother may submit a probate application to the competent court for certifying her custody of her children, provided she signs an acknowledgement of no existing disputes," said a statement.

“For granting custody to a mother, the judicial panel considers her capacity for custody and then determines her application in accordance with Shariah and legal requirements, without the need for initiating a lawsuit, as is the case with all probate certifications indicated in Chapter 13 of the Law of Civil Procedure.”

Sheikh Walid said the mother will have the right to carry out all formalities pertaining to her children at government offices, embassies and education institutions.

She will also be able to apply for and collect her children’s passports as well as collect child support from government and civil entities.

However, she will not be able to leave Saudi Arabia with her children without the permission of a judge.


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