Many people dream of getting married and having children. Many find understanding and stability in married life, but some have problems that cannot be solved and resort to divorce. Divorce is a messy affair and the legal matters involved in it affect the entire family. The separation affects children in particular.
Sarah, a mother of six children, divorced a man who, she said, was miserly and refused to spend on her and the children. She wanted to work to help improve their financial situation, but her husband refused to let her work, abused her physically and psychologically, and created mayhem in the house by breaking the furniture.
Unable to take any more abuse, Sarah left the house and asked for help from a friend. After a short stay with her friend, Sarah tried to return home, but her husband would not take her except on the condition that she would not ask him for her rights, including spending on her and the children.
Sarah refused, so he forbade her from seeing her children, which caused her psychological anguish. She asked for help from the Legal Aid Department of the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) and was advised to work to improve her financial situation by finding work so that she could take care of her children.
She has since worked in many jobs, as a factory worker, in a lady’s salon, and in teaching, and was able to rent a house. The Legal Aid Department filed a case for custody of her children and to oblige the husband to pay her expenses and those of her children.
Article 170 of the Jordanian Personal Status Law states that ” A mother has priority right over the custody of her children until they reach 15. Thereafter, the child is given the option to remain with the mother until reaching the age of civil majority (18). A mother risks losing custody of her child if she remarries and her new husband is not a close blood relative of the child (mahram). A mother who has custody of her children may not travel or take residence outside Jordan with the children without the consent of the guardian”.
Another case involved a woman with three children who was deprived by her husband from seeing her children because she had left the house after disputes with him. The woman tried to get custody of the children, even offering to give up all her rights just to get them, but he wanted to take revenge, knowing how attached she was to her children. Even though they had been married for 10 years, the husband used the children to take revenge and filed a case for separation, so that the case would remain in court for the longest time, unlike cases in which the two parties agree to go to the judge and divorce on the spot.
The woman resorted to ARDD’s Legal Aid Department, which filed a child custody case. The court ruled in favor of the mother. According to statistics for the year 2019, published by SIGI Jordan, for every 194 marriages per day, there are 55 divorce cases. Last year, Jordan recorded more than 20,000 divorce cases; the number of cases registered during the past four years range between 20 and 22,000 annually.
Conflicts between parents often blind them to the child’s wellbeing; it, however, depends on the customs and traditions of a community. Even today, in parts of Jordanian society and in other Arab societies, women are still considered unable to make decisions or look after themselves without the support of the men in the family.
When a mother realizes that the law is on her and her children’s side, even if injustice, oppression, defeat may be prolonged, she can overcome all challenges. The most important thing is to take into account the best interests of the child, away from the criminal and revenge mentality in disputes and conflicts, whether it be between spouses or individuals.