Supporting families of divorcees

Reem Leila , Tuesday 3 Jan 2023

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has called for the creation of a Family Support Fund to protect the financial welfare of families of divorced parents, reports Reem Leila

Family Support Fund

During the inauguration of several industrial projects last week, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi called for a fund to be established, financed jointly by contributions from couples applying for the marriage contracts and the state.

The president instructed that provisions for the fund be included in the draft personal status law currently being compiled, adding that the government would match the contributions received from couples pound for pound.

In the absence of further details, including the amount of the fee, the statement generated a degree of controversy, particularly among those planning to marry.

The 188-article draft law aims to unify the provisions of six existing pieces of legislation in a single bill. It includes articles regulating, among other things, financial guardianship, visitation rights, hosting, divorce authentication, and urfi marriage.  

Lawyer Mahmoud Abul-Naga says the new fund is a development of the Egyptian Family Insurance System Fund which was established by Law 11/2004, in accordance with the Personal Status Law 1/2000 which allows wives to terminate their marriage contracts without the consent of their husbands and regulates procedures for divorce, reconciliation and other issues disputable before family courts.

Couples have been paying fees to support the fund since 2004, says Abul-Naga, and dues are also exacted when birth certificates are issued.

The 2004 legislation also stipulated that a family insurance system be established to ensure that court rulings related to alimony be implemented, to be overseen by the Nasser Social Bank.

In 2015, the bank was authorised to file suits against anyone failing to meet their financial obligations towards their divorced wives and children, though the process proved far from glitch-free. “The new draft,” according to Abul-Naga, “is an attempt to bridge gaps and loopholes and reactivate the fund’s role.”

Ahmed Zayed, professor of sociology at Cairo University and a member of the Senate, says the draft law submitted by the government details the fees for various services that will finance the fund. They include new taxes on tickets to sporting events, parties and festivals priced at LE50 and above, fees on applications for enrollment in military and police colleges and institutes, government bids and tenders and procurement contracts, requests for reserving governmental plots of land and housing units, club memberships and airline tickets.

“The fund will have an independent budget and a board of directors appointed by the minister of social solidarity, with the executive director serving a three-year term that can only be renewed once,” said Zayed.

He also confirmed that the amount paid by couples intending to marry will be tested and affordable.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 5 January, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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