Over 1,850 paternity, maternity rows brought before Saudi courts

The cases were either filed by Saudi fathers married to foreign women or Saudi women married to foreign men

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Saudi courts in several cities and towns are currently considering a total of 1,853 cases establishing the paternity or maternity of children born in Saudi-foreign marriages.

The cases were either filed by Saudi fathers married to foreign women or Saudi women married to foreign men to prove the children born in these marriages belonged to them.

The cases are also filed by children of such marriages to prove paternity or maternity.

A report published on Sunday by Al-Watan said 907 of these cases were filed in Makkah and 486 in Jeddah last year.

According to a report by the Justice Ministry, the cases are steadily rising, especially in the western and central regions of the country.

The report said the General Court in Riyadh considered 121 of these cases, while the General Court in Madinah looked into 147 of them.

According to the report, there were 36 cases in Dammam, 17 in Al-Khobar, 27 in Jubail, 26 in Taif, 23 in Buraidah, 30 in Abha, 19 in Jazan and eight in Baha in addition to a few other cases in a number of other towns and cities.

Ihab Al-Solaimani, a Saudi judge at the International Court of Justice, said most of the paternity cases at the Saudi courts were filed by Saudi husbands who had married foreign women without government approval.

“These are correct Shariah-compatible marriages but they are not regular because they did not have the official consent of the concerned Saudi authorities,” he said.

Al-Solaimani advised Saudi men who married in foreign countries to seek the help of Saudi diplomatic missions to grant their children entry visas to the Kingdom where they will have their status corrected.

“Once back in the Kingdom, the fathers should correct the status of their children. They should go to courts to prove their paternity.”

He noted most marriages involving Saudis and foreigners take place in Makkah, where there are expatriate women from a number of nationalities.

“Many foreigners come to Makkah for Haj or Umrah and remained there afterward. “They have children who were born in the Kingdom.”

Al-Solaimani said such cases usually end at the first court hearing unless the father denies paternity.

“In this case a DNA test will be conducted to confirm or deny his paternity,” he said.

He said the lack of punishment for Saudis who marry without government consent has encouraged a number of them to marry foreign women.

“Many Saudis prefer to marry foreign women because these marriages are less costly,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Saudi courts in 12 cities last year considered 581 inheritance cases, according to the Justice Ministry.

According to local daily Al-Madinah, 128 of these cases were in Asir and 108 in Makkah.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on October 27, 2014.

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