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Women’s Rights after Divorce in Egypt, According to Egyptian Family Law (Sharia)

First of all, it should be acknowledged that, of all lawful acts, divorce is the one most disliked in the eyes of Allah. This is…

First of all, it should be acknowledged that, of all lawful acts, divorce is the one most disliked in the eyes of Allah. This is the basic assumption by which Egyptian law operates, and this is an assumption upon which we have to base everything that follows.

Women should know their rights and especially should be informed about the divorce that their husbands employ when parting with them. Two categories of divorce exist in Egypt:

  1. Revocable divorce
  2. Irrevocable divorce

The first kind of divorce happens when a couple have divorced twice (they remarry after one break-up). The second kind of divorce happens when this has happened three times. The woman becomes Haram for the former husband and has to marry another husband and divorce him before they can be reconciled with the former husband. This rule stems from the Quran: “divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either hold Together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness.”

Divorce in Egypt

“So if a husband divorces his wife (irrevocably), he cannot, after that, re-marry her until after she has married another husband and He has divorced her. In that case there is no blame on either of them if they re-unite; provided they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by Allah. Such are the limits ordained by Allah, which He makes plain to those who understand.”

The difference between these two kinds of divorce is that in the case of revocable divorce the husband still has the right to come to the house of his wife in order to provide her with livelihood, but only in the course of her waiting period. The husband can still unilaterally–that is, without her consenting to do so – get the wife back if he decides to do so during the waiting period (Iddah) even if without her consent. In the eyes of the Sharia, or the law, the couple is still legally married during this period.

An irrevocable divorce in Egypt, on the other hand, doesn’t allow the husband to visit—but he still has to supply money and food – and the husband cannot get the woman back as a wife.

In both types of divorce the wife is entitled to inherit her husband’s belongings if he dies during the period of waiting. The time of waiting has different meanings for both types of divorce. The revocable divorce allows it to be revoked during this time, and also forbids the woman from marrying (even talking about marriege to others is considered Haram during this period). The irrevocable divorce, in turn, only requires the woman not to marry for three months. This is done so that it’s ascertained that the woman is not pregnant with a child from her ex-husband.

Now that we know the difference between these two kinds of divorce, there’s a little caveat to explain. According to Egyptian law, divorce that happens before sex is different from divorce after the consummation of a marriage.

If divorce precedes sexual relations, and the husband has bestowed gifts, money or anything else of material value on his bride, he has the right to get back half of it (50%). There’s also no waiting period and the husband cannot get the wife back without her consent. However, they can still marry with a new contract. If the divorce happens when the marriage is consummated, the husband cannot lay claim to any money or gifts.

However, if a woman wants to win her freedom unilaterally (this type of divorce is called Khol3), she has to give back everything, rescinding her rights as a wife.

The laws mentioned above are attested in the Quran: “And if ye divorce them before consummation, but after the fixation of a dower for them, then the half of the dower (Is due to them), unless they remit it or (the man’s half) is remitted by him in whose hands is the marriage tie; and the remission (of the man’s half) is the nearest to righteousness. And do not forget Liberality between yourselves. For Allah sees well all that ye do.”
“O ye who believe! When ye marry believing women, and then divorce them before ye have touched them, no period of ‘Iddat have ye to count in respect of them: so give them a present. And set them free in a handsome manner.”

Now that that’s clear, let’s concern ourselves with the general financial rights for women after divorce:

Conciliatory payment:

The divorced woman retains the right to receive money from her ex-husband to obtain livelihood. This operates for a period of not less than two years and is carried out according to the ex-husband’s economic capabilities.

Waiting period payment:

The divorced woman retains the right to receive money from her ex-husband to obtain livelihood. This operates for three menstrual cycles of a woman or three calendar months.

Deferred dowry:

Deferred dowry is highly individual and thus is managed according to the marriage contract.

List of portable materials:

Depends on whether the couple made this list or not.


The ex-husband is obliged to provide mother’s expenses until the child has been weaned, but no more than two years. The right of guardianship and custody for children


The divorced woman has the right to a safe and comfortable place of residence during the waiting period and until the baby is weaned.

Right of maternal nurturing and care:

A divorced mother has the right to care for a baby until it’s 10 (for males) or 12 (for females) old. After that children can choose which parent to live with. The mother is entitled to receiving money for childcare expenses. However, if baby-girl at her 12 years old decided to stay with mother, the ex husband have to pay of her expenses only until she married. If baby-boy decided to stay with his mother, father have to give him payments until he is 15 years old.  If she neglects her children or remarries, she loses her right to her children.

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