In a new breakthrough ruling for women in Saudi Arabia, divorced mothers are now allowed to retain the custody of their children provided there are no disputes between the parents.
Instead of fighting a legal battle to retain or win the custody of their children, divorced mothers can now submit a request to the relevant court, the Centre for International Communication said on Monday.
The new process was mentioned in a circular to the courts from Minister of Justice and President of the Higher Council of the Judiciary Shaikh Walid Al Samaani.
“The Higher Council of the Judiciary has studied the matter and decided that a mother may submit a probate application to the competent court for certifying her custody of her children, provided she signs an acknowledgement there are no existing disputes,” the statement said.
“For granting custody to a mother, the judicial panel considers her capacity for custody and then determines her application in accordance with Sharia and legal requirements, without the need for initiating a lawsuit, as is the case with all probate certifications indicated in Chapter 13 of the Law of Civil Procedure.”
The circular specified that a mother will have the right to carry out all formalities related to her children at government offices, embassies, education offices and institutions.
She can also apply for and collect her children’s passports, as well as collect all child support and maintenance from government and civil entities.
However, she would not be able to travel with her children outside the country without a judge’s permission.
The move is the latest in a series of state efforts to empower Saudi women under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform initiative.