ABU DHABI // Divorced mothers should retain custody of their daughters until they marry if doing otherwise would be damaging for the child, the federal supreme court has ruled.
The judgement came in the case of a 13-year-old girl in Sharjah. While article 156 of the Personal Affairs Law states that a mother maintains custody of her sons until they are 11 and daughters until 13, it allows this to be extended - until puberty for boys and marriage for girls - if it is believed to be in the youngster's best interests.
The court explained that custody takes into consideration the rights of the father, the mother and the child. If those clash, the child's welfare takes priority.
The girl's father had filed a lawsuit at the Sharjah personal affairs court to take over custody of his daughter from his ex-wife, as the girl had reached the age of 13.
The lower court ruled in his favour, a decision upheld on appeal. The federal supreme court, however, reversed the decision, ruling that the mother's custody should be extended.
It did not say why this was in the daughter's best interest, only that she was at an age where she could not leave her mother's custody. Moreover, nothing in the case files proved the mother was incapable of maintaining custody.