Women in Saudi Arabia can file lawsuits in courts of their choice

Published: Updated:

The Ministry of Justice has given women litigants the right to choose the courts nearest to their homes when filing lawsuits related to family affairs.

“The decision was aimed at making it easy for women to reach the courts without facing transport difficulties,” said Abdul Rahman Bin Nouh, undersecretary for judicial affairs at the ministry.

He said women could opt to go to the courts of their choice seeking resolution of family issues that normally follow divorces.

He explained that under the prevailing litigation system, people are required to file cases in courts in cities or regions where the defendants live but women have now been exempted from this requirement.

Nouh said under the Islamic law, women have the right to file cases against their husbands either in their countries of abode or in countries where their husbands live.

He said such lawsuits might involve alimony, child custody, the right of visitation and other relevant issues.

Nouh explained that if a woman chose to file a case at a court in her home province, the defendant would be informed to attend the proceedings but if he failed to do so, the court would rule in absentia.

The undersecretary also said women have the right to ask for in-camera hearings to preserve their privacy.

He said within its efforts to preserve the special status of women, the ministry has initiated a number of electronic services that women may benefit from without having to come to the court in person.

“The courts usually issue temporary decisions in favor of women, which should be immediately implemented until a final settlement is reached,” Nouh said.

This article was first publish in the Saudi Gazette.