When ‘kidnapping’ is legal

By September 28, 2012Divorce

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C posted in Divorce on Friday, September 28, 2012

There are many things to complain about in the U.S. family court system, especially when it comes to child custody and visitation. But consider the plight of a mother in Ottawa, Canada. She hasn’t seen her two children in three years, not since her ex-husband spirited them off to Kuwait where he obtained both a divorce and sole custody in a local court without his wife’s consent or even her presence in the courtroom.

The couple met in Canada in 2002, where they obtained refugee status, got married under Islamic Sharia law and registered the marriage in Canada. In 2006 the husband took the wife and their two children to Kuwait, and the family lived there for three years. In 2009, the wife’s visa expired and her husband promptly threw her out of their house, announcing that he had divorced her. The mother had no choice but to leave and return to her home in Canada.

Divorce under Islamic law is heavily biased towards the husband. Men do not need their wife’s consent to obtain a divorce, nor do the wife’s wishes factor into child custody arrangements. The Kuwait court gave the father full custody and dissolved the marriage almost instantly. Canadian officials told the grieving mother than there really isn’t anything they can do unless the ex-husband and the children return to Canada. Even then, the chances of regaining custody are slim.

To some, this sounds like a case of international kidnapping, but it isn’t. What the father did is perfectly legal under the Islamic law governing marriage and child custody, and there are no international compacts that extend the ex-wife’s rights under Canadian law to Kuwait. The mother tries to talk to her children by phone whenever she can, but the children no longer call her “mom.” They say their dad told them their mother hates them. The woman now lives alone in Canada, holding down a job and constantly preparing for the unlikely possibility that her children will come home some day.

Source: Ottawa Citizen, “Ottawa mother fights for children legally ‘abducted’ by husband in Kuwait,” Karen Chen, Sep. 25, 2012