By Professor Gabriel Sawma

Custody of the children in Morocco is governed by the 2004 Family Law known in Arab as Almudawana which is based on Islamic law. Accordingly, custody is defined as protection of the child from harm and carry out his or her upbringing and interests. The custodian must take all the necessary steps to preserve the child’s safety.

Custody is one of the parent’s duties as long as the marital relationship exists. If the spouses do not agree on the custody of the children after divorce, the court must determine who gets custody.

The Family Law of Morocco distinguished between daily care (hadana) and the legal rights of the guardian (wali). Article 171 gives dily care to the mother until the age of seven, then to the father and then to the grandmother of the child.

When the child reaches the age of seventeen, the law allows him or her to choose which of the parents they wish to live with. When there is separation, custody of children at tender years belongs to the mother, and when she is dead or is unfit to the task, custody passes on to her female relatives.

The father retains guardianship and parental control over the child; he makes all important decisions regarding the minor child, such as decisions related to education, financial support, and marriage.

If the wife is disqualified to get custody, custody does not automatically pass to the father. The right to custody remains in the family of the mother, and her mother or sister is regarded as the appropriate person to care for the child. Custody is awarded to the father only if circumstances compel the judge to disregard the preferential right of the mother and her relatives.

DISCLAIMER:While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

Gabriel Sawma is a lawyer with Middle East background, and a recognized authority on Islamic law of marriage, divorce and custody of children; Professor of Middle East Constitutional Law and Islamic law; Expert Consultant on Islamic divorce in US Courts and Canada; admitted to the Lebanese Bar Association; former Associate Member of the New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

Prof. Sawma lectured at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) in New York State and wrote many affidavits to immigration authorities, Federal Courts, and family State Courts in connection with recognition of Islamic foreign divorces in the U.S. He also travelled numerous times to Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf States, and wrote extensively on Islamic divorce in USA and abroad.

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