Saudi brides will be given a copy of their marriage contracts in the latest breakthrough for women’s rights in the kingdom.
Justice Minister Waleed Al Samaani said that the decision allows women to be fully aware of their rights and of the marriage contract conditions.
Under the minister’s decision, two copies of the contracts are given to the groom and the bride and each must sign to acknowledge they received it.
Legal experts hailed the move as a great step forward for women that will help them through any family cases reviewed by courts of law, especially those related to proving the marriage did take place.
Several women who married secretly have had to face frustrating legal wrangles with their husbands denying their formal relationships.
In some cases, wives have had trouble with the families of their husbands determined to deprive them of their inheritance and other rights following their husband's death.
The women had no formal evidence they got married since they did not have copies of their marriage.
Marriage contracts can be written in the presence of two witnesses, and several Saudi men took up wives without informing their families. The decision to give women a copy of the contract will help them in such cases, the experts said.
The copy will also allow women to check all the details of the marriage contract, including the prenuptial agreement and the amount of money to be paid in case of divorce or the possibility for the wife to take up a job.
Last week, an Arab woman who was married to a wealthy Saudi businessman won a legal case against his family following his death after her lawyer successfully proved their formal marriage.
The wife had no copy of the contract and the husband’s family rejected her marriage claims. She eventually won the case when the lawyer was able to convince the two witnesses of the marriage to come forward and give their testimonies.
The 22-year-old woman, from an Arab country, was given about $17.9 million as her share of the inheritance.
She and her husband were married for only one month when he had a heart attack and died.
By Habib Toumi
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