Tibenderana v. Al-Torki

The petitioner father filed for divorce from the respondent mother and custody of their child.  After the birth of their child in 2007, the respondent left the matrimonial home without returning.  After over two years of absence, the petitioner filed for divorce.  The two elements of desertion are the actual absence of a spouse and their intent to abandon the union.  In this case, the respondent travelled internationally with the child at the petitioner’s expense and refused requests to move to Uganda once she obtained citizenship.  In 2011, she moved back to Uganda.  In 2012, the respondent requested an Islamic divorce, which she was granted, citing problems with the government of Saudi Arabia.  After the Islamic divorce, the parties continued to cohabitate with petitioner as the sole provider for the family, but the marriage was over.  Respondent moved to the United Kingdom for the child’s education and the petitioner paid the costs.  The petitioner also complained of physical assault, which he did not report to the police to protect his reputation.  He submitted documentation of his payments for living and education expenses, their marriage, the Islamic divorce, and his unanswered inquiries to respondent about their child.  The court agreed that these facts demonstrated an irretrievably broken marriage.  Citing the Children Act, which requires courts primarily consider the best interests of the child in custody determinations, the court granted custody of the child to the petitioner because the petitioner functioned as the sole provider for the family.

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