Children watching TV - AFP
CAIRO – 2 May 2018: A foreign, non-Muslim mother breathed a sigh of relief as the Egyptian Family Court ruled in her favor, and granted her custody of her child.
The custody of the child is not about religion, but about emphasizing the primacy of love and assuming the responsibility to provide love and compassion, the court ruling stated.
The couple, the foreign lady in question and her ex-husband, had already been separated after eight years of marriage. Custody battles followed as the ex-wife filed a case with the Egyptian Family Court to obtain custody of their daughter, since she already lives and works in Egypt.
The investigations showed that the father was lying when he alleged that his ex-wife wanted to flee to her hometown with their daughters. However, his allegations were debunked by witnesses’ testimonies that proved him wrong.
In its ruling, the court pointed out that the foreign mother may lose the custody of the child in case the child is urged to change her religion or the mother changes her religion and becomes an atheist.
The foreign mother can keep the child under her guardianship as long as she does not take the child out of the country and does not remarry.
According to the Egyptian personal statues law, an Egyptian divorcee has the right of custody of her child until he/she reaches the age of 15 and then the child must make his/her own decision as to which parent to live with.
In addition to ensuring that the mother is physically, mentally and psychologically able to look out for the minor and has not been convicted of criminal offences, she must not remarry. In such a case, the child’s custody falls to blood relatives, with grandparents coming at top, while fathers are at the end of the spectrum.
In late 2016, a new amendment was introduced by a group of parliamentarians to give custody of the child directly to the father if the mother remarries, and the father is then entitled to provide a female caretaker to the minor, namely a new wife.
The law sparked an outcry by activists and female divorcees that see the law as “unfair” and against the rights of both women and children.
According to a 2013 study by the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women, 90 percent of divorced women choose not to remarry, lest they lose custody of their children.
Since the beginning of 2018, 52 percent of the divorce cases lodged by wives to the Family Court are due to dispute escalations over husbands’ complaints about wives not paying sufficient attention to their looks after marriage.
According to a random sample of women found regularly frequenting the court, their spouses constantly accuse them of taking them for granted, neglect them after marriage and hold them accountable for being the reason why they had to seek an escape from the boring marriage life.
Also, the findings revealed that 560 wives have submitted a divorce case after having being beaten by their spouses, while 400 husbands who filed divorce complaints were being deceived by their wives, who attempted to steal furniture and run away.
Meanwhile, two percent of the complaints filed were because of disputes relating to the refusal of husbands to fend for their children because of second marriages.