Saudi Arabia introduces new personal status law

As part of several ongoing legal reforms, the Saudi government recently approved a new personal status law.

The law was brought in to increase family stability and improve the status of women, when it comes to marriage and divorce.

The new law is based on the rules and objectives of Islamic Shariah Law, but also considers the latest international law, with a view to keeping up with modern day life. By creating a clearer legal framework around marriage and divorce, judges in Saudi Arabia will have less discretionary power, which should result in more consistent court rulings.

New Saudi law prioritises women and children 

In particular the new personal status law allows women to become the legal guardians of their children, and gives women the right to demand alimony and childcare support should a marriage break down.

New rulings on marriages in Saudi Arabia

The new law regulates a marriage from engagement to divorce, including the khul’aa, or divorce request from the wife.

Women now have the legal right to decide on who they should marry. A guardian cannot stop them from marrying someone of their choice, if their chosen partner is of a similar status to them, and women can review their marriage contracts and file lawsuits. 

Girls under 18 cannot marry, and clerics must receive the explicit verbal assent of the woman before the marriage can take place. The dowry is the wife’s property, and she doesn’t have to dispose of it to others. Before the marriage either party has the right to dissolve the engagement.

New rulings on divorces in Saudi Arabia

Either partner can demand that the marriage be annulled if one of them fails to fulfil an agreed condition. The rules around child custody mean that custody is automatically assigned to the wife in the event of a divorce, and the husband must provide alimony in terms of food, housing, and other necessities, even if the wife has considerable personal wealth. 

There’s also now new transparency around status-related issues including children’s visitation rights and divorce under conditions of extreme anger.

New rules may help to resolve differences earlier

The new rules set out clearly the rights and duties of those involved and it’s hoped they will help to resolve differences before they reach the courts. In particular the new laws strengthen the rights of divorced women who have had to raise children with no support from the father, or those who have had no contact with their children. 

Aramas International Lawyers: Expert family law and divorce lawyers in Saudi Arabia 

We have many years’ experience in dealing with family issues and issues around personal status including those of child custody, divorce, and alimony in Saudi Arabia. We also deal with cases where high net worth is involved. Our aim is always to save time and effort on pre-litigation stages and achieve an amicable settlement for all parties wherever possible. 

We offer sympathetic, detailed advice throughout all aspects of the divorce process and work with couples based in England and Wales with links to the Saudi regions, as well as with expatriates with connections to England and Wales. We can advise you on all aspects if you decide to proceed under English law. Get in touch today to discuss.

We are a Specialist Team of International Divorce and Family Laywers.

Aramas International Lawyers are a firm of UK solicitors that provides legal services to expatriates. Providing support for international families, in particular those who have children, travel, live, and maintain connections in different countries around the globe.


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