An end to a marriage confirmed by text!


8 January 2019

By Farhad Islam

It is perhaps considered insensitive to end a relationship by text message. Yet, the introduction of a new regulation allowing Saudi women to be notified by text of their divorce should be hailed as a method of ending secret divorces. Under the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia, men can obtain a divorce by making a verbal statement to the court, which will then receive the court's verification. Therefore, divorces can be made by Saudi men without the women's knowledge. Saudi women do not have this privilege, as divorce can only be obtained where there is evidence of abuse. The enactment of the regulation is hugely beneficial in order to provide Saudi women with knowledge to ensure legal protection of their right to alimony.

There is clear appetite to liberate Saudi women from male guardianship laws, as the regulation supersedes the ban against women driving, lifted in 2018. However, gender inequality in Saudi is still prevalent, even simply tasks of applying for passports or travelling abroad are subject to the permission of their male guardian.

There is great power in the knowledge provided by the text notification of divorce, as technology can be used to bridge the gap to allow justice to be more accessible to Saudi women. Technology has also been used to make justice more accessible in England and Wales, following the £1 billion modernisation of the law in 2018. The funding has been used to develop a better digital presence of the legal system to allow divorce petitions to be initiated online.

2019 is set to be an exciting time for divorce reform in England and Wales. Although divorce will not be notified to a partner through text messages, the court will instead receive a notification of divorce from at least one party. The new proposals are said to be less antagonistic with the opportunity to contest the divorce being removed.

Gepp Solicitors have a wealth of experience in family law, having just celebrated their 250th year in business. Email or call 01245 228106 today to speak to one of our experts.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.