Women's Unequal Access to Divorce in Egypt and How This Affects Child Support

I have a pending Florida child support case involving Egyptian parties who were previously divorced in Egypt and the Husband (who resides in Florida) has never paid a dime of child support for the parties' minor child, who lives solely with the mother (in Egypt).  As it turns out, the parties Egyptian divorce decree makes no provision, nor even a mention of, child support. This is in total contrast to Florida law which requires that child support be established in every divorce decree when minor children exist.  In fact, even if the payee of child support desires to waive the requirement that his or her spouse pay child support, Florida courts will prohibit a waiver of support because it would not be in the best interest of the children.  Florida feels BOTH parties have an obligation to financially support their children and the Court is here to look out for those children.

Egypt continues to have one of the most discriminatory divorce systems in the world.  While men seeking divorce can be granted one in a matter of minutes, no questions asked, and never even need to enter a courtroom (in fact, all they have to do is utter "you are divorced" to their wife 3 times and then register the divorce within 30 days with a religious notary), women requesting a divorce face several procedural and evidentiary hurdles, which could delay the case for years.  Women must prove they have been harmed by their husbands, often requiring eyewitness testimony, in order to be awarded any assets or other financial compensation upon divorce.  As of 2000, women do have the option to file for a "no-fault" divorce, but by doing so they are required to forfeit all financial rights and repay any dowry they received from their husbands upon marriage.

Divorced women in Egypt are often reduced to homelessness or begging on the streets for money to feed their children.  In order to evade its international obligation to protect women's rights, including women's rights to equal access to divorce, Egypt cites it is simply adhering to Islamic law.

Some Random Facts:

-- Women are prohibited in Egypt from being employed as criminal prosectors or judges

-- Bribery plays a role in Egypt's unequal divorce system

-- Divorced Egyptian women seeking public assistance are required to produce a copy of their former husband's birth certificate, which is often impossible for the women to access, so they are denid public assistance.

-- Egyptian women forfeit their right to any alimony upon divorc if they are found guilty under the"obedience laws," which means they left the house without their husband's permission.

 

*The above information was obtained from an article entitled "Divorced from Justice: Women's Uequal Access to Divorce in Egypt," found at http://www.refworld.org.