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July 25th, 2006
Class of 2006
Map: Family Law in the Middle East and North Africa: Tunisia

Source: CIA World Factbook 2006

Marriage Age: Minimum marriage age is 20 for males and 17 for females; marriage below these ages require special permission from the court. Although women may marry at 17, the age of legal consent for both sexes is 20. Women under the age of 20 must therefore obtain parental consent for marriage, which can have the de facto consequence of denying women the right to choose their own partners.

Marriage Guardianship: Women must consent to marriage, and may seek annulment for unconsummated forced marriages; if the marriage was consummated, the woman may keep her “mahr” (dowry given by the husband), and the paternity of any resulting children is recognized.

Polygamy: Polygamy is prohibited. Offenders may be subject to a prison sentence of one year and/or a fine.

Divorce: Men and women have equal right to seek divorce. Divorce by mutual consent is recognized, but only after mandatory reconciliation efforts by the family judge have failed. A wife is entitled to compensation if her husband divorces his wife without her consent.

Child Custody: In the case of divorce, the mother maintains custody of her sons and daughters until the age of 7. After that time, custody will revert to the father if he requests it, unless a judge decides that the mother is better suited to retain custody.

Sources: Islamic Family Law, special project of Emory Law School; Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Rand Corporation

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