FAMILY MATTERS & PERSONAL STATUS LAW

Religious courts have jurisdiction over family matters. There is no civil marriage or civil divorce.

The Personal Status Law regulates matters of “personal status” (those relating to family matters and inheritance) which apply to Muslims, Druze, and Bahais.

Sharia is the main source of legislation for the Personal Status Law, in addition to ‘urf (or customary law). Sharia Courts decide on personal status matters for Muslim communities; and Christian communities may apply their own laws for marriage and divorce. Religious courts for each Christian denomination adjudicate respectively in matters relating to family and divorce.

Under the guardianship system, a male relative (wali) acts as guardian on behalf of an unmarried woman under the age of 40 (whether divorced, widowed, or single). The guardian’s consent to marriage is required to a first marriage. The consent of the guardian to a woman’s marriage is not required if she has reached the age of 18, is reasonable, and has been previously married.

Marriage contracts are signed between the husband and the wife’s guardian, with an exception for women marrying for the second time (who do not require a wali’s approval) or if a judge decides a guardian’s opposition to the marriage is unjustified. A guardian is required to supervise unmarried females up to the age of 40 in relation to their needs, including for physical, psychological, or mental well-being, and woman under guardianship are considered economically dependent.

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