Barbados Family Law

Barbados Family Law


Barbados is not a party to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.

Barbados will not automatically recognize a foreign court’s custody orders, except in the case of the orders from the United Kingdom and certain Canadian provinces.

Barbados will review allegations of international child abduction into Barbados based on its courts’ determination of what is in the best interests of the child.

We work with lawyers in Barbados to provide advice as to international family law matters that concern Barbados. We are not Barbadian lawyers.


Bahrain Family Law

Bahrain Family Law


Warning: Bahrain has not signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Custody Disputes

There is no specific law in Bahrain governing child custody, with each dispute examined on a case-by-case basis. When child custody disputes arise between parents, one of whom is a citizen of Bahrain, custody decisions are based on Islamic (Shari’a) law.

Two separate Islamic courts, representing the jurisprudence of the Sunni and Shia Islamic sects, enforce divergent interpretations of Islamic law. In general, the marriage contract determines which court will exercise jurisdiction. If the contract is silent on this issue, the court representing the husband’s sect will have jurisdiction. Non-Bahraini nationals, whether married to a Bahraini or other national, may file custody cases through a lawyer approved to practice in Bahrain in the court in which the marriage was legalized, whether Sunni, Shia or civil. Non-Muslims are permitted to file cases in the Bahrain civil court.

In determining issues of custody, Bahraini courts consider the parents’ religion, place of permanent residence, income, and the mother’s subsequent marital status. Priority is generally given to a Muslim father, irrespective of his nationality. Under Shari”a law a Muslim mother is usually granted custody of girls under the age of nine and boys under the age of seven, at which time custody is transferred to the father. If the mother is unavailable, an infant may be given to the grandmother on the mother”s side until s/he reaches the age of seven or nine.

If the court finds the mother “incompetent,” custody of the child, regardless of age, can be given to the father, or to the child’s paternal grandmother. A finding of incompetence is left to the discretion of the Shari”a judge. Shari”a courts have found parents incompetent if they are not Muslim or if they engage in behavior that is considered to be inconsistent with the Islamic faith. Remarriage to a non-Bahraini may be considered grounds for a finding of incompetence. Under Shari”a law, if a mother removes a child from the father thus denying him access, the mother”s custody rights can be severed. If both the mother and father are ruled incompetent, custody of the children is given to the women on the father’s side of the family.

If a child has attained the “age of discretion,” that child may be allowed to choose the parent with whom he or she wishes to live. Since the “age of discretion” has no clear definition, a Bahraini lawyer should be contacted to discuss any specific case.

Enforcement of Foreign Judgments

Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable in Bahrain if they potentially contradict or violate local laws and practices. For example, an order from a U.S. court granting custody to an American mother may not be honored in Bahrain if the mother intends to take the child to live outside Bahrain. Courts in Bahrain will not enforce U.S. court decrees ordering a parent in Bahrain to pay child support.

Visitation Rights

Non-custodial parents (both the mother and father) are entitled to visitation by prior arrangement of the competent court. Neither the court nor a custodial parent has the authority to stop a non-Bahraini parent from entering Bahrain to visit the child.


Bahamas Family Law

Bahamas Family Law


The grounds for a divorce in The Bahamas are set forth in the Bahamas Matrimonial Causes Act. Section 16 of the Act provides as follows:

16. (1) A petition for divorce may be presented to the court either by the husband or the wife on any of the following grounds that the respondent

(a) has since the celebration of the marriage committed adultery; or

(b) has since the celebration of the marriage treated the petitioner with cruelty; or

(c) has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; or

(d) has lived separate and apart from the petitioner for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petitioner; or

(e) has, since the celebration of the marriage been guilty of a homosexual act, sodomy or has had sexual relations with an animal

A wife may also petition on the ground that her husband has since such celebration been guilt of rape.

(2) On a petition for divorce presented by the husband on the ground of adultery or in any other pleading praying for divorce on that ground, the husband shall make the alleged adulterer a co-respondent unless excused by the court on special grounds from doing so.

(3) On a petition for divorce presented by the wife on the ground of adultery, the court may, if it thinks fit, direct that the alleged adulteress be mad a respondent.

(4) On a petition for divorce it shall be the duty of the court

(a) to inquire, so far as it reasonably can, into the facts alleged and whether there has been any connivance or condonation on the part of the petitioner and whether any collusion exists between the parties; and

(b) to inquire into any counter charges made against the petitioner.

(5) For the purposes of subsection (1)(c) the court may treat a period of desertion as having continued at a time when the deserting party was incapable of continuing the necessary intention if the evidence before the court is such that, had that party not been so incapable, the court would have inferred that his desertion continued at that time.

(6) In considering for the purposes of subsection (1) whether the period for which the respondent has deserted the petitioner or has lived separate and apart from the petitioner has been continuous, no account shall be taken of any one period (not exceeding three months) or of any two or more periods (not exceeding three months in all) during which the parties resumed cohabitation but no period during which the parties cohabited shall count as part of the period of desertion or the period for which they lived separate and apart, as the case may be.

(7) Subject to subsection (8) no petition for divorce other than that based on facts existing, and constituting a ground for divorce, prior to the coming into operation of this subsection shall be presented to the court before the expiration of the period of two years from the date of marriage (hereinafter in this section referred to as the specified period).

(8) The court may, on application made to it, allow the presentation of a petition for divorce within the specified period on it being satisfied that there is no reasonable probability of a reconciliation during the specified period.

(9) If it appears to the court, at the hearing of a petition for divorce presented in pursuance of leave granted under subsection (8) that the leave was obtained by the petitioner by any misrepresentation the court may

(a) dismiss the petition, without prejudice to any petition which may be brought after the expiration of the specified period upon the same facts, or substantially the same facts, as those proved in support of the dismissed petition; or

(b) if it grants a decree, direct that no application to make the decree absolute shall be made during the specified period.

(10) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit the presentation of a petition based upon matters which occurred before the expiration of the specified period.

(11) If at any stage of proceedings for divorce it appears to the court that there is a reasonable probability of reconciliation between the parties to the marriage, the court may, without prejudice to any other power, adjourn the proceedings for such period as it thinks fit to enable attempts to be made to effect such reconciliation.

Section 2 of the Act includes the following definitions:

Cruelty includes voluntary conduct reprehensible in nature or which is a departure from the normal standards of conjugal kindness on the part of one party to a marriage thereby occasioning injury to the health of the other spouse or a reasonable apprehension of it on the part of that other spouse and being conduct which, after taking due account of all the circumstances of the case, would be considered to be so grave and weighty a nature that should such other spouse be called upon to continue to endure it, would be detrimental to his or her health.

Desertion includes behaviour without cause or excuse on the part of one party to a marriage towards the other spouse whereby it can reasonably be concluded that that party intended through such behaviour to bring the matrimonial consortium to an end.


Austria Family Law

Austria Family Law

AUSTRIA AND CHILD ABDUCTION: US Department of State 2005 Report on Compliance with the Hague

As in past compliance reports, the United States continues to view Austria as noncompliant in its implementation of the Hague Convention.  Our primary concern in the past has been with the capabilities and willingness of the Austrian authorities and legal system to enforce judicial orders for return or for access.

These concerns are exemplified by a long-outstanding access case that, although not pursued under the Convention in 2003, resulted from earlier compliance problems (the history of this case was outlined in earlier Compliance Reports).  The left-behind parent has brought two cases against the Austrian Government to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), prevailing in both instances.  While the ECHR determined that Austria had violated this parents and his childs right to a family life under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, this parent continues to experience difficulties gaining acceptable access to the child.  The Department of State has continued to engage the Government of Austria over the past year and has pushed for a resolution to this case that fully respects the parental rights of the left-behind parent.

We are encouraged by the fact that the Government of Austria has continued to address the difficult challenges to creating suitable Hague Convention compliance mechanisms and effective enforcement procedures.  In November 2003, the Austrian Parliament passed new implementing legislation that, effective January 1, 2005, limits the number of courts empowered to hear Hague Convention return cases to sixteen, down from over two hundred (Convention access cases were not restricted to these courts).  It may be several years before we can begin to determine the effects of the legislation on judicial processing of return applications.  In the meantime, the Austrian Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has begun conducting in-depth training for the judges at the sixteen Austrian courts that will be handling all Hague return cases.  The MOJ has also instituted a pilot program to train bailiffs in child psychology in order to sensitize them to complications that may arise during enforcement procedures.  Furthermore, in October 2004, a panel of experts was convened to draft recommendations for improvements in enforcement of custody and return orders; the conference received nation-wide press coverage and legislation incorporating the recommendations is being prepared.

Over the reporting period, Austrian judicial and legal authorities displayed a greater sense of urgency in enforcing return orders, often in the face of harsh public criticism, particularly in three high-profile, non-U.S. Hague return cases.  Judicial delays are still common, but this new awareness of the need for effective enforcement represents a significant step forward by the Austrian Government.

There were no new cases opened during the reporting year of children abducted from the United States to Austria; however, the Austrian Government has maintained consistent communication with the U.S. Central Authority and the U.S. Embassy on general Hague compliance matters.  We hope future U.S. cases will be accorded the same high level of commitment as recent non-U.S. cases have been receiving.