Features -overview- of personal status law

Date: 2021

As part of the Saudi Vision 2030 in terms of developing the legislative systems in the Kingdom is enacting a number of laws, which would contribute to the possibility to predict court judgements, raise integrity level and efficacy of judicial apparatuses, and promote reliability of procedures and the control mechanisms in order to realize the principles of justice, since lack of such legislations have led to variation in court rulings and prolongation of court proceedings and litigation.

The development process of the legislative system in the KSA is based on what has been contained in the Sharia stipulations in Quran and Sunni as well as what is unanimously agreed to by Muslim scholars, taking into consideration the commitments of the Kingdom respecting the international charters and agreements.
One of the new legislations is the draft Personal Status Law.
After I went through such a draft law, it was found out that the latter tackled the marriage contract, its conditions, rights of spouses, and provisions governing Khula–a procedure through which a woman can divorce her husband in Islam– and termination of marriage contract and separation between spouse and its effects on alimony and custody of children, etc.
The proposed draft law also contained provisions that govern the will, its pillars and the grounds that could invalidate it (the will) till reaching legacies and inheritance to be divided (amongst the legal heirs) in accordance with the shares prescribed in Islamic Sharia. The proposed draft law has stipulated also that the legal age is to complete 18 years.

The proposed draft law stated that legalization of a marriage contract shall be prohibited unless the couple reaches 18 years, and the court may permit the marriage of whoever does not reach 18 years of age, be a male of a female, if the person attains puberty, that’s after the court verifies the interest behind marriage.

The draft law granted both spouse rights and duties, and amongst the rights of a husband is that the wife must obey him amicably and take care of his children, while amongst the wife’s rights is that the husband must support her financially, provide her with accommodation for living, and treat her fairly if the husband has more than one wife. One of the rights the proposed law has secured the wife with is that the husband shall not trespass upon her own money.

Going through the provisions of the proposed draft law, it was found that the law tackled the rules governing the travel of children, who are kept under the guardianship of a parent, outside the kingdom.

According to the proposed law on travel permission, a guardian other than parents may not travel outside the KSA along with the child and stay for a period of more than 30 days unless the parent or either of whom, in case of the death of one of them, grant/s an approval.

The proposed law has allowed the child to choose with which parent he or she wishes to stay if the child completes 15 years, while the custody of the girl ends when she reaches 18 years.

The draft law also tackled proving foliation of children and acknowledgment of sonship. The law allows the competent court to order persons involved in paternity cases to undergo a DNA testing to prove a family relationship, while the court may come up with a judgment based on the conclusions and results of the DNA test.

From a procedural aspect, the draft law proposed the necessity to determine a time limitation for numerous cases, which are appearing in this law, in application of the rules of stability of judicial transactions.

A lawsuit on alimony demanded by a wife cannot be heard by the court if the alimony is claimed for a period of more than two years back from filing the case.

An important provision has been included in the draft law, which is a lawsuit to increase or decrease the maintenance that may not be filed before the elapse of one year from the date a judgment on alimony is issued.

A father, according to the draft law, must support his children financially, if he is well off or able to earn his living, until the son attains the age when he will be able to make a living, or when the girl ties the knot.

This was my understanding of what was contained in the proposed draft law, which is still in the process of legislation by the chief committee tasked with preparing judicial legislation.

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