In what is being hailed as another win for women’s rights, Saudi Arabian women who have been divorced by their husbands will now have to be notified they’ve been divorced via text message to avoid a nasty divorce surprise.

Divorce Surprise

Deserted

According to the Saudi Arabian Justice Ministry, Saudi courts have started notifying women of marital status updates via SMS and enabled them to view relevant probate certificates through the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) online portal.

Saudi courts have started to send such notifications starting on January 6, 2018, a step aimed at protecting the rights of female clients, and enhancing digital transformation with more services.

The courts notify women of probate certificates related to marital status — upon approval — through their Absher-registered mobile numbers,” the ministry explained. “The message includes the certificate number and the name of the relevant court.”

Female clients can also visit the court or the court president’s office in order to obtain a copy of the divorce certificate, if any.

Florida Due Process

I’ve written about many jurisdictional aspects on divorce in Florida and will be speaking at the Florida Bar Family Law Section and AAML Certification Review Course later this month in Orlando.

A divorce in Florida is a civil lawsuit, and basic Constitutional notions about Due Process require, at a minimum, that a party to a divorce be given notice of the proceedings and a real opportunity to be heard and defend themselves in an orderly procedure.

When courts violate Constitutional protections of due process rights, court commit fundamental error. This frequently happens when a court expands the scope of a hearing without proper notice.

For example, a court can violate due process by considering one motion at hearing that was scheduled and noticed for a different motion! Frequently trial courts will schedule a matter for a case management conference but turn the proceeding into a final evidentiary hearing. Family courts can be held to violate due process rights when that happens.

Exceptions

There are situations in family law in which notice may not be required. A good example of this is a temporary injunction.

Temporary injunctions may be granted without written or oral or even text notice if, immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the movant before the adverse party can be heard in opposition; and the movant’s attorney certifies any efforts to give notice and why notice should not be required.

It is important to keep in mind that a temporary injunction is an extraordinary remedy that is granted sparingly.

Just Desserts

What is happening in Saudi Arabia is a different matter entirely. The new notice move is designed to stop the practice of men ending marriages without telling their wives.

The Saudi courts started to send such notifications Sunday in:

a step aimed at protecting the rights of female clients, and enhancing digital transformation with more services.

The message will include the divorce certificate number and the name of the relevant court where the women can pick up the documentation.

The government move comes as part of social and economic reforms known as Vision 2030 being promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The reforms have included women being given the right to drive.

The Saudi Ministry statement is here.

 

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