Top lawyer warns against growing divorce cases

By M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News Staff
Publication Date: 
Sun, 2002-08-18 03:00

RIYADH, 18 August — A prominent Saudi lawyer has warned against the growing number of divorce cases in the Kingdom, where more than 18,000 weddings ended in separation last year.

The divorce rate is showing an alarming trend although the Islamic legislation applied in Saudi Arabia imposes strict and precise conditions for seeking separation besides identifying situations for divorce. Zamil Shabeb Al-Rakad, a top Saudi attorney, said here yesterday that the legislation, sometimes misinterpreted, pays particular attention to the institution of marriage and family ties.

Explaining the circumstances under which a divorce can be sought, Al-Rakad said that "divorce is a solution to acute conflicts and problems compounded between the couple. The legislation explains explicitly the specific regulations and rules concerning divorce, which should be used as a last resort to settle conjugal/family differences."

The decision to divorce must be backed by strong arguments, necessity and good reasons, he said. He pointed out that the legislation also bestows on a woman the right to demand divorce but on condition that the separation will be for the benefit of the couple and in the interest of the family as a whole.

The Saudi attorney quoted Qur’anic verses to substantiate his arguments about divorce and family life In the Kingdom, a total of 16,725 weddings out of 81,576 ended in divorce between March 2000-2001. This represent 20.5 percent of all marriages solemnized and finally broke up in Saudi Arabia, indicating a threat to society. Polygamy, not economic factors, is responsible for 55 percent of divorces taking place in the country, according to a report published recently.

A major study conducted by King Abdul Aziz University found that the main causes of women breaking away from their husbands were illtreatment, violence and hot temper.

On the judicial system in Saudi Arabia, he said "the bar experiment is still in its infancy stage in our country." The ultimate aim of the Saudi judicial system, which is based on Shariah, is to realize justice ensuring equal rights for both disputants to voice their arguments. If either of the parties fails to express his arguments, he is permitted to appoint a lawyer to represent him, the attorney said.

The legislation, however, has imposed some conditions on the appointment of a representative lawyer. An attorney at the Saudi court must comply with local regulations and must not oppose Shariah. He must not indulge in twisting facts or fabricating lies. The lawyers are also allowed to represent their clients at the judicial committees in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Rakkad, who is a member of the Arab Union of International Arbitration (AUIA), owns a law firm in Riyadh. He is also a member of the Arab Lawyers Union besides being a columnist on a wide range of legal subjects.

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