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Saudi Arabia

Court ordered to enforce maternal custody ruling

The Supreme Judicial Council imposed retroactive implementation of a decision that gives full child custody to mothers, after a woman demanded the implementation of the law in her case, even though she was divorced before the law was issued.
The council instructed the court that looked into the woman’s case to give her full custody over her children, which allows her to go to Civil Status Department, Passport Department, embassies, educational directorates and schools, and complete her children’s procedures with government and private bodies.
However women will not be allowed to travel with their children outside the Kingdom unless they get the judge’s permission from the country in which the child lives.
The Supreme Judicial Council issued the decision and stated that in cases of divorce before the issuance of the decision, the judicial process should be sped up to maintain justice and facilitate litigation.
The decision gave divorced women the authority to issue official documents for their children, take over the issuance of all official documents through an official deed that guarantees her this authority.
The decision came after women faced increasing problems after being granted the right of custody, such as stalling husbands or those trying to negotiate custody by refusing to hand over their children’s official documents. This threatens families, and the rights and futures of children.
The council looked for solutions to ease the plight of these women after receiving complaints of injustices by husbands impeding their children’s civil rights. Some children faced school delays because of problems between parents, and the council stated that women are capable of having full custody of their children, which means they have the right to conduct all official business for their children.
The decision aims to empower women who have custody of their children to behave on their behalf in official bodies, except travel.
Courts registered cases of unfairness and reconciliation offices exerted pressure on women to give up children to their fathers.
Judicial rulings point out that women can be appointed as guardians of others. In addition, the law differentiates between custodian and guardian, for custodians have no right to behave on other people’s behalf, which is why women are prevented from traveling with the child without the guardian’s permission.

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