How the Saudi state helps deserted families
Last week, the justice minister officially launched the Alimony Fund, a Saudi government initiative approved in 2017. The fund was created to provide financial support for divorced or abandoned women, and for wives involved in court cases that have not yet been resolved.
It will have its own independent budget derived from subsidies, donations, grants, donations, wills and endowments.
The main aim of the fund is to provide support and care for women who need it because of their matrimonial circumstances, to improve their quality of life, and to provide a decent standard of living for them and their children, especially if their own families are unable to help. At the same time, the state is determined to counter the phenomenon of husbands and fathers who try to evade their responsibility to pay alimony to their wives and children, and will actively pursue such men to recover these funds.
There are three scenarios where the fund may intervene. The first is when a woman has obtained a final court judgment for alimony, but the judgment has not been acted upon by the husband or father, and he is not insolvent. The second is when a woman has obtained an initial order for alimony but the case is still pending in court. The third is when a woman has submitted a claim for alimony to the court; the fund will pay the alimony to her until the case is completed, and then recover the money from the husband. If the court rejects the alimony claim, the beneficiary must repay what she received from the fund.
Applicants for support from the fund may register and apply electronically on the fund’s website, by entering the requisite national identity information.
While the fund is an excellent initiative, it could perhaps be more realistic in assessing the needs of a family, particularly with the soaring cost of electricity and high water bills, and taking into account children’s expenses and the standard of living the family may be used to.
At a later stage, some of the fund’s budget could also be allocated to training programs for its unemployed beneficiaries, giving them the opportunity to find a job or a career, and therefore, an additional source of income to provide a decent living for their family. Many charities have valuable experience in this area that could be put to good use, empowering many women through several programs that attract people of different abilities and interests.
Recent initiatives by the Ministry of Justice have achieved goals of which we as lawyers are proud. The genuine empowerment of divorced or separated women is not limited to the alimony fund but extends to speeding up the mechanism of judicial procedures so that families in general, and children in particular, avoid falling into this financial predicament.
• 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