In a breakthrough ruling for women in Saudi Arabia, the country has allowed divorced mothers to retain the custody of their children provided there are no disputes between the parents.
The Centre for International Communication on Monday said that instead of fighting a legal battle to retain or win the custody of their children, divorced mothers can now submit a request to the relevant court, Gulf News reported.
The new process was mentioned in a circular to the courts from minister of Justice and president of the Higher Council of the Judiciary Shaikh Walid Al Samaani.
"The Higher Council of the Judiciary has studied the matter and decided that a mother may submit a probate application to the competent court for certifying her custody of her children, provided she signs an acknowledgement that there were no existing disputes," the statement said.
"For granting custody to a mother, the judicial panel considers her capacity for custody and then determines her application in accordance with Sharia and legal requirements, without the need for initiating a lawsuit."
The circular specified that a mother will have the right to carry out all formalities related to her children at government offices, embassies, education offices and institutions.
She can also apply for and collect her children's passports, as well as collect all child support and maintenance from government and civil entities.
However, a divorced mother would not be able to travel with her children outside the country without a judge's permission.
The move is the latest in a series of state efforts to empower Saudi women under the Kingdom's Vision 2030 reform initiative.