Egypt would have one of the highest rates of children being abducted/kidnapped to then most other countries. The amount of inquiries CARI Child Abduction Recovery International receives for help by foreign parents who have had their children illegally taken to Egypt from around the world would blow your mind, hence this post is needed. The removal of a child by the non-custodial parent to or within Egypt is not a crime in Egypt unless the child is subject to Egyptian court-ordered travel restrictions. Parental child abduction is, however, a criminal offense in Egypt if a parent or grandparent who removes a child from the person who is entitled to custody according to an Egyptian judicial decision.
Additionally, parents should be aware that they must work within the Egyptian court system in order to obtain legal custody of the child in Egypt. CARI cannot stress this enough to foreign parents who children have been taken to Egypt. Do not try and take matters into your own hands within Egypt. Egypt Authorities will not take it lightly if you try and take your child without the correct authority or permission from Egyptian courts.
CARI works in Egypt closely with the Egyptian authorities on a monthly basis and have wonderful contacts supporting us on our cases. Forget about your countries court orders, they mean absolutely nothing in Egypt or any other Middle Eastern country for that matter. Don’t waste your time or money on lawyers in your country after the basic steps have been set. Besides two cases we know of, you can forget about your Embassy stepping in to help, they are honestly useless and will avoid everything to help you besides pass you the usually ‘list of Egyptian lawyers’…..
You will need an experience Egyptian lawyer. Do not hire a lawyer in Egypt if they have not dealt with a case of International Child Abduction before!! Egypt is still very corrupt and there are lawyers who will try and take every dollar you have, while doing absolutely nothing for you.
Once the custody order is obtained within Egypt, the parent must go to the district family court for its implementation. The president of the court has the authority to request that the police enforce the custody order and/or impose a penalty on the noncustodial parent for noncompliance with the custody order.
Dual Nationality: Egypt recognizes the concept of dual nationality. Under Egyptian law, children born to an Egyptian father are automatically considered citizens of Egypt. Egyptian mothers of children born to a non-Egyptian father, however, should submit requests to the Egyptian Passports, Immigration and Nationality Authority, Egyptian Embassies or Consulates overseas, and/or the Civil Registration Office to register their children as Egyptian citizens.
Enforcement of Foreign Court Orders: A parent can request that a foreign custody order be recognized in Egypt, but enforcement will result only if the order does not contravene Shari’a law and “paternal rights.” Therefore, as a practical matter, foreign custody orders are not generally automatically recognized in Egypt, and the parent must seek legal representation in Egypt. Returning a Muslim child to a non-Muslim country is likely to be seen as being in conflict with the public morality of a state which is Islamic.
Interpol in Egypt:
The Interpol office in Cairo has confirmed in person to CARI that they are powerless to act ‘within’ Egypt borders because, ‘Parental Child Abduction’ to Egypt is not a crime.
Presumptive Custody: Under Egyptian law, the courts generally favor the mother. Mothers are most commonly considered to be the appropriate custodians of children up to age 15. Normally, if custody disputes arise between parents, Egyptian courts uphold presumptive custody. Courts in Egypt generally uphold presumptive custody for the mother if she is a “person of the book” (i.e., Muslim, Christian or Jewish) and if she is deemed to be a “fit” mother. If the father is Muslim, the court generally requires that the mother commit herself to raise the child as a Muslim in Egypt. If a non-Egyptian mother’s custody is upheld in court, she generally must still request the permission of the court to take the children out of Egypt. Also, under Egyptian law, if the mother (Muslim or non-Muslim) remarries she may lose her claim to custody of her children, depending on the court’s determination based on the best interests of the child. This law, however, does not apply to the father; he would normally retain custody rights if he remarries.
Order of Preference for Non-Parental Custody: The mother may lose presumptive custody due to remarriage or inability to counter court findings that she is an “unfit mother.” In such cases, the courts recognize an order of preference of alternate adult custodians with priority given to the mother’s family in the following order: maternal grandmother or great-grandmother; paternal grandmother or great-grandmother; maternal aunt; paternal aunt; maternal niece; paternal niece. If these relatives do not exist, the right of custody shifts to a male in the following order of priority: maternal grandfather; maternal brother; maternal nephew; paternal brother.
Right of Visitation: By law, visitation depends on the willingness of the custodial parent. If a father has custody and does not voluntarily agree to visitation, the local authorities will generally not force the issue without a court order. The parent will have to seek a court order to enforce visitation.
Travel: Currently, the father’s permission is not required for children to depart Egypt unless there is a custody order that explicitly grants custody to the father. Egyptian fathers no longer have absolute control over their children’s right to travel abroad. They can still prevent their children from traveling, but must do so by means of a court order. This is the biggest problem foreign mothers have when the Egyptian father gets an order (usually within 30 minutes) through the courts for a travel ban on his child(ren).
Non-Muslim Family Law:
Egypt has a significant Christian population, the majority being Coptic Orthodox. There are separate courts that apply family law to Christians. According to this law the period of the mother’s custody is until seven for a male child and nine for a female child. The order for awarding custody is the mother, the maternal grandmother, the paternal grandmother, adult
sisters, maternal aunts and paternal aunts. Remarriage of the custodian normally results in the loss of custody.
The bottom line is CARI is seeing more and more foreign mothers being awarded custody within Egypt. The Egyptian authorities however, do not care and will do nothing to help you get your child back unless you know someone who knows someone!! We know of only 2 cases where the child has been found and returned, as a result of ‘a lot’ of pressure from the foreign mothers Government and lawyers to push the Egyptian authorities into enforcing the orders.
CARI currently has a number of jobs going on in Egypt with the Egyptian authorities, as 99% of Egyptian fathers after losing the Egyptian custody, WILL go on the run and or give your child(ren) to other family to hide. You must respect the rules and laws within Egypt if you want any chance of getting your child(ren) home. CARI has and will continue to recover children legally with the assistance of the Egypt authorities.
Warning: There is a known female fraud operating within Egypt and all over Facebook who has scammed many foreign mothers promising to return their children from Egypt.
Disclaimer: Any information contained in this post relating to the legal system in Egypt is provided for general information only and based on CARI’s 16 year experience. Independent legal advice should be sought in Egypt for specific information relating to individual cases.