Here to provide an outlook on the ins and outs of family law matters in the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar is Ghada M. Darwish, Founder and Managing Partner at Ghada M. Darwish Law Firm. Ghada tells us all about divorce cases, the variables regarding child custody and on top of talking us through the challenges surrounding family businesses in Qatar, talks us through the firm’s thought leadership in the region.
What are the most prominent and common issues that arise pertaining to families in Qatar?
The most prominent issues that arise with regard to family law in Qatar are divorce and child custody, both governed by the ‘Family Law of Qatar’, Law No. 22 of 2006.
What challenges accompany these issues in terms of legal disputes and how do you navigate them?
Challenges accompany these issues because the provisions apply depending on who is seeking divorce. While divorce may be initiated by the husband through a written or oral declaration, or through some form of intelligible gesture, divorce may be initiated by the wife only through judicial recourse and subject to the grounds provided by law. In cases of divorce by judicial decree, reconciliation must first be attempted by the judge. Further, a divorced wife may be entitled to compensation if the divorce is made without any fault on the part of the wife. In the case of provision on redemptive divorce, which is a method of divorce primarily by mutual consent and also where the wife relinquishes her rights and offers consideration, the court has discretionary power to decide in favour of the wife even when the husband does not agree with such divorce.
Marital or premarital counselling is available to Qatari and non-Qatari couples through the Family Consulting Center.
Challenges in child custody arise when the mother is a non-Muslim, as stricter requisites apply in such cases. The Law allows non-Muslim mothers who do not renounce their religion to retain custody of their child, subject to the child’s religious faith. However, the non-Muslim mother may only retain custody until the child reaches the age of seven. Nevertheless, the law places the interests of the child as paramount.
How comprehensive is Qatar family law for the public, especially in terms of marriage and divorce? Could it be made more transparent?
Qatar family law is comprehensive and transparent to the general public. A purely non-Muslim family may only be bound by Family Law if they decide to file an action in court invoking its application. Additionally, for non-Muslims, their personal/national laws and international conventions will also be applicable for family issues, as long as those are in consonance with the Laws in Qatar and are in conformity with public morality.
Is there particular Qatar family-based legislation you would like to see changed in order to facilitate your work?
Mandatory counselling before a final judicial decree would greatly aid in the lessening of divorce. Further, mandatory premarital counselling would also help couples attain a better understanding of the rights and obligations that accompany marriage.
What would you say makes you the go to law firm for family cases?
As a law firm with a legal team from different legal backgrounds, we are able to provide clients with quality legal services. Thus, we are able to better understand and commiserate with the differing needs of the client when it comes to family matters. It is advisable to approach law firms for family disputes, as there may be unseen legal aspects regarding different issues.
As your firm is mostly commercial and business based, what legal complexities may have to be considered in terms of family businesses, and for those that want to set up shop in Qatar?
Our Firm is a full-fledged legal firm with a professional approach in offering legal assistance in all areas.
Complexities may arise due to the very nature of a family business itself – as it is run and held together by members of the same family and the dynamics may differ greatly than that of a listed company. Governance of the business may become strained at times of family conflict, as the line between personal relationships and business relationship would be very thin. Lack of management know-how and enjoyment of benefits by some members may ruin the integrity of the business. In order to avoid conflicting decisions, the communication on strategies should be systematic and professional; there should be a unified vision. If the business is to flourish over generations, there should be a transformation into a corporate structure. Assets could be brought together; there can be a written constitution, proper supervision and distribution of responsibilities. Usually, family businesses face problems because of generational changes, threat of families getting fragmented, and due to the need of sustainable business.
As a thought leader in this field, how do you go the extra step when it comes to helping families in these matters?
Our firm goes the extra step by ensuring that top quality legal services are provided, keeping in mind the best interests of our client and guarantee the finest legal and moral support for families. We have a vision to arrange awareness campaigns for women, especially educated house wives in the region with the intention to bring them to the elite group.