JEDDAH: Following the Saudi Cabinet’s approval of the personal status law after its review by the Shoura Council, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that it is the second of four laws within the legal reforms system announced on Feb. 8, 2021.
Those remaining are the civil transactions law and the penal code for discretionary sanctions.
The crown prince noted that the personal status draft was drawn from the provisions of Islamic Shariah, and took into account the latest legal trends and modern international judicial practices, keeping abreast of developments and changes.
He added that it will contribute to preserving families and ensuring their stability as the basic component of society, and work to improve the status of the family and the child, as well as control the discretionary power of the judge to limit the discrepancy of judicial rulings in this regard.
The crown prince stressed that the introduction of the personal status law reflects the leadership’s commitment to reform, especially since this law constitutes a qualitative leap in efforts to protect human rights, preserve family stability and empower women.
He explained that the law is comprehensive in addressing all the problems that families and women are experiencing, and carefully organized personal status issues in detail, noting that it will enter into force 90 days after its publication in the Official Gazette.
The crown prince extended his thanks to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for his care in developing the legislative system in Saudi Arabia and raising the efficiency of judicial work in a way that guarantees and preserves rights, and contributes to achieving prompt justice.
When the law of evidence was issued on Dec. 28, 2021, the crown prince made it clear that the personal status law would be issued during the first quarter of 2022.
The personal status law was adopted following efforts led and directly supervised by the crown prince with the aim of creating and reforming systems that preserve rights, establish principles of justice and transparency and achieve comprehensive development, within the system of legislative reforms that the Kingdom is embracing under the supervision and guidance of the king and crown prince.
Arab News spoke to Saudi lawyer Khalid Al-Mihmadi, who highlighted conclusions from the new announcement: The legal guardian does not have the right to prevent a woman from marrying someone who is equal to her; if one of the spouses does not fulfill a condition they have agreed on, they may request the annulment of the marriage contract, and it shall be without compensation for the husband, and with compensation not exceeding the dowry for the wife.
“The dowry belongs to the wife and she is not obligated to dispose of it to anyone,” he told Arab News.
“What the suitor offers during the courtship period is considered a gift unless he declares that it is part of the dowry,” he added.
If the suitor retracts from the marriage, he shall recover the dowry he paid.
“A man’s qualifications are considered to be religious competence only,” Al-Mihmadi said.
He said that the personal status system constitutes a major qualitative leap in efforts to preserve and protect human rights, family stability, empower women and enhance the rights guaranteed in the system.
“The adoption of the personal status system comes as a practical translation of the efforts led and personally supervised by the crown prince in creating and reforming systems that preserve rights, establish principles of justice and transparency, and achieve comprehensive development,” he said.
Al-Mihmadi said the new law Introduces a system of personal status that reflects the leadership’s commitment to development and reform, taking into account the latest legal trends and modern international judicial practices.
“The personal status law, which will enter into force 90 days after its publication, will work to control the discretionary power of judges in accordance with the latest international theories and practices in this regard, and to limit the differences in judicial rulings.”
Saudi lawyer Waleed Malhan said the personal status system was derived from the provisions and purposes of Islamic Shariah, and the latest legal trends and modern international judicial practices were taken into account in its preparation.
“It keeps pace with the latest developments and changes in reality, and the marital relationship, ” he told Arab News.
The system also preserves the bloodline of offspring, and the regulation of marriage from engagement to divorce and khul’o (divorce request from the wife).
It regulates alimony and custody, which explicitly states that custody is for the mother in essence, and this was not mentioned in the system previously.
“The system also specified the disputes of proving birth and marriage impediments. It also did not neglect the regulation of the marriage of the mentally minor (the insane) and the marriage of those who have not completed (18) years, provided that the legal court accepted,” he explained
“It shows us the comprehensiveness of the personal status system for all aspects of marriage and its disputes with what was stated in the Qur’an and the authentic hadiths of the Prophet, and it ended the suffering of many lawyers in the past due to the dispute in judgments between the personal court departments,” he added.