Dramatic increase in khula cases

Dramatic increase in khula cases
Updated 03 January 2015

Dramatic increase in khula cases

Dramatic increase in khula cases

Studies conducted by the Justice Ministry indicate that the rate of khula cases (divorce granted at the request of women) has increased dramatically over the past two years with a staggering 1,438 divorce certificates or 4.2 percent of the total number of divorces in the Kingdom.
Another notable finding of the study was that Jeddah topped the list with 45 percent of the total number of khula cases and 30 percent of all divorce certificates issued at the Contracts and Marriages Courts.
The applications for khula were mostly made by employed women who can afford to pay the alimony (return the dowry paid by the husband) and young girls who had been married to older men.
Sheikh Muhammad Al-Saegh, judge at the General Court in Dhuba, said in a study that women have an equal right with men to seek justice.
“The Saudi law gives women the right to complain about any injustice and it is the court’s duty to give her a hearing. If she is the plaintiff, she can file her case in the court and if she is the accused she has the right to vindicate her position,” Al-Saegh said.
The judge urged the media to take steps to make women aware of their individual and familial rights.
He said that he noticed on several occasions that women who had filed khula suits were confused about what they actually wanted. “Sometimes they demand an annulment of the marriage at first but then change their mind and say that they want a khula. And at other times, they decide that they are not interested in divorce but only want to maintain good relations with their husband,” he noted.
Social scientist at the Saudi German Hospital in Asir Sabah Zahar said some women believe that khula is a radical solution to escape the oppression of a husband even though they do not want to rebel against Saudi traditions and conventions. Many women see khula as a means to reinstate their rights and seek freedom from the man who they think is depriving them of these rights.
She added that the large number of cases which reach the human rights organizations reveal that there are some disorders in marital life which should be dealt with effectively.
She welcomed the Justice Ministry’s plan to open a number of reconciliation offices in the law courts which could play a major role in bringing about mutual understanding between couples who are planning a divorce.
Legal expert and member of the Family Security Program Ahmed Al-Mohaimid attributed khula in the Kingdom to a number of reasons such as family abuse, wrong choice of spouse, marked difference in the ages of the couple, discontentment in married life, differences in the educational, cultural and social levels of the man and wife or bad habits. The law also does not approve a marriage if it was undertaken under parental compulsion.
According to Al-Mohaimid, there are three kinds of khula cases — approved khula with valid reasons, acceptable khula that could be permitted and khula without any valid reason at all.
He disapproved the exploitation of a woman who wants to exercise her legal right referring to the husband who may demand exorbitant amounts of money in the form of alimony.
Psychiatric consultant at the Al-Nakhil Complex in Jeddah Dr. Al-Zairi pointed out that a man could also go into deep depression due to his wife demanding khula which could impact other issues to be sorted between them following the khula such as custody of the children. He also said that no study had been conducted on the impact of khula or divorce on men and women yet.
However, it is likely that society, especially other women would be contemptuous of a man who had been divorced by a woman creating psychological issues for him.
Legal consultant Hadi Al-Yami said the delay in disposing of khula cases is aimed at giving more time for the possibility of reconciliation between the estranged couple. Sometimes, the husband is absent at court hearings making for the long-drawn delays in khula procedures.
However, the situation has undergone marked improvement recently. If the court is convinced of the evidence, the judge can pronounce a khula order. The judge also examines whether the wife is financially sound enough to return the dowry in full or the amount she can return.