Maternal Custody Amidst Conflicting Personal Status Laws
This article discusses the differing and varied maternal custody laws, customs, and common practices within the Lebanese state amidst a multitude of archaic and multi-varied personal status laws. Lebanon has 18 recognized sects, and Law 60 of 1936 grants them the right to regulate their affairs on both legislative and judiciary levels, hence each religious sect applies its own rules which are applied in court disputes related to family matters such as divorce, marriage, inheritance, and care of children.
The negative implications of such a multiplicity of religious laws are important: with no unified civil code regulating personal status matters, and with a patriarchal religious system in place, clear discriminations against women are often found in religious laws, especially in relation to children’s custody. Moreover, a child’s best interest and welfare are rarely taken into consideration in court rulings, in which joint custody is not recognized. That being the case, the mother is given custody until a certain age (which varies depending on the religious sect of the father), after which the father or the paternal family gets custody.
Women are greatly disadvantaged under the current sectarian status quo, and would find it much more favourable to them with a unified national and secular law of personal status.