The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Justice has finalized amendments which would allow mothers greater custody access--with a lot of caveats. Note that the abuse (even the murder) of children in custodial father households--particularly by hostile second wives/stepmothers--has been increasingly obvious as divorce rates increase. Since Saudi Arabia and other father custody countries are a "mecca" for western fathers rights groups, it's important to see what the results have been for the well-being of children in those countries thus far. The increasingly obvious answer: Not Good. More information here:
Ministry Finalises Changes to Child Custody Law
6 January 2010, ABU DHABI — The Ministry of Justice has finalised amendments to the Federal Personal Status Law which regulates child custody, it was announced to the Federal National Council on Tuesday.
Dr Hadif bin Jowan Al Dhahiri, Minister of Justice, said the ministry had formed a committee to study the law. After considering its application over the past four years, the committee recently confirmed the need for changes.
Questions over the law’s effectiveness arose when a nine-year-old girl was abused by her stepmother last year after her custody was granted to her father and not her grandmother.
The ministry’s committee has drafted amendments to the law and will present them to higher authorities for action. Ahmed bin Shabib Al Dhahiri, First Deputy Speaker of the FNC, told Khaleej Times the house would discuss any proposed amendments and consult with the Ministry of Justice to arrive at proper modifications.
“Refining the law is not out of question and both the government and the house are keen to do so out of their desire to address and tackle negative (results) in its application,” he said.
The abuse of the child by her stepmother and other similar cases provide a legal context to drop custody from the father and give the child back to the mother even if she is married to another man, the First Deputy Speaker said.There were clauses in the code that allowed custody to be granted to the previous guardian if the child had not been cared for properly, he added.
Counsellor Ibrahim Al Tamimi stressed the importance of refining the code which grants custody to the father after the mother lost it.
“This provision is the direct cause of making many children vulnerable to mistreatment by their stepmothers after they come under the responsibility of their fathers,” he said, calling for a return to the previous practice of granting custody to the grandmother.
A girl above 11 years and a boy above 13 will come under the care of a father provided there is a woman in the home, even if the woman is only a housemaid.
He said the child’s age should not be the primary concern for custody under the law.
Aysha Al Roumi, FNC member, said the council had received many complaints from mothers over the issue.
“We back calls for reviewing the law to meet demands and serve interest of the society and family,” Al Roumi said.