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July 26th, 2006
Class of 2006
Map: Family Law in the Middle East and North Africa: Saudi Arabia

Source: CIA World Factbook 2006

Marriage Age: Saudi Arabian law does not address this issue.

Polygamy: Saudi Arabian law does not address this issue.

Marriage Guardianship: Officially, the marriage contract is made between the groom and the “mahram” (a male whom it would be illegal for a Muslim woman to marry, usually due to marital or blood relationships) of the intended bride; however, the degree to which a woman is able to participate in decisions regarding her marriage varies by family and individual. Women, not men, must specify in the marriage contract whether they are virgins, divorcees, or widows.

Divorce: A woman may seek divorce only if her husband explicitly granted her this right in the marriage contract, or if she can prove in court that her husband is impotent or has deserted her. A man may seek divorce from his wife simply by declaring his intention to the court and repeating it three times. Post-divorce maintenance/financial arrangements: Men are required by law to provide maintenance to their ex-wives for a period of time; however, the ex-wife has no legal recourse if he does not.

Child custody and guardianship: Fathers maintain the legal right to custody in the case of divorce. Although judges may consider the fitness of the parents in awarding custody, when a father is demonstrated to be an unfit parent, paternal grandparents may have a prior claim to the children over the mother.

Source: Freedom House

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