Joint Custody Rights . . . in Saudi Arabia?

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Tuesday, June 2, 2015.

Saudi Arabian courts received 84,000 child custody and related cases in the past few months. The flood of new cases is due to a recent decision allowing divorced women custody rights. Joint custody? Hardly, but this may show a trend.

A Member of the Shoura Council said that litigation in family affairs matters is guaranteed. Independent judges, known as “implementing judges”, apply penalties on those who do not follow rulings ordered by the family affairs courts.

Closer to home, it’s been more than two decades since Massachusetts father, Daniel Sabbatelli, was locked in a contentious divorce that ended with him getting limited access to his three daughters. The emotional toll hasn’t diminished.

As The Daily News of Newburyport reports:

“The courts don’t treat both parents equal,” he said. “It’s winner-take-all.”

Sabbatelli, a Woburn electrical contractor, is one dozens of advocates now arguing that parents should be entitled to equal custody of their children.

Groups like the Boston-based National Parents Organization, to which Sabbatelli belongs, have thrown support behind legislation that requires family court judges to consider “joint custody” in most divorce cases, unless a parent is deemed unfit, along with a raft of other proposed changes to custody laws.

But the changes have plenty of critics:

“Every case is different,” said Fern Frolin, a divorce attorney with the firm Mirick, O’Connell, DeMallie and Lougee. “And this isn’t a battlefield between moms and dads, it’s about what’s in the best interests of the children.”

I’ve written about child custody reform in Florida before. Last month the Florida House and Senate each tried to pass separate bills to change Florida’s child custody laws.

The bills had very different language, but both would have dramatically changed the laws of custody in Florida if the Legislature had not closed early, and they had been signed by the governor.

Worldwide, equalizing child custody laws is a trend. This was not the first time this issue arose in Florida, and next year, anyone interested in child custody laws should keep their eyes on Tallahassee.

The Daily News of Newburyport article is available here.