by Jeremy D. Morley
- Jeremy Morley has testified as an expert witness with respect to the laws and practices of Lebanon in respect of international child abduction to Lebanon.
- There are extreme difficulties in returning a child to the United States from Lebanon when retained by a Lebanese parent.
- Lebanon is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
- There are no extradition treaties between Lebanon and the United States.
- Under Lebanese law, Lebanese nationals may prevent their wives and children (even if they are American citizens) from leaving Lebanon.
- Lebanon does not recognize international parental kidnapping as a crime.
- Issues of child custody and divorce in Lebanon are generally decided in religious courts under religious law. Thus, if the father is a Sunni Muslim and the mother is a Christian the custody of their children will normally be decided by a Sunni Muslim court.
- One might petition a civil court to handle a custody case instead of a religious court. The issue would be whether the religious court has jurisdiction. It could take up to two years to have the civil court assume jurisdiction and a minimum of four to five years to have the case decided.
- Among Sunni Muslims, the father has physical custody of a daughter over the age of nine and of a boy over the age of seven. For Shia Muslims the father generally has physical custody at for boys at age 2 and for girls at age 7.
- If a father establishes that the mother is unfit or lacking good moral character, she will lose any right to the child. Muslim law requires a child to be raised in the Muslim faith, and if it were proven that a mother tried to raise the child as a Christian, she could be found unfit.
- Lebanon does not recognize dual nationality. American/Lebanese dual nationals who carry Lebanese papers will be treated as Lebanese nationals by security authorities.
- A child who is a dual American and Lebanese citizen would be bound by Lebanese law in the eyes of the Lebanese civil courts.
- The U.S. State Department cannot offer any real assistance even if there were a United States court order directing the return of the child from Lebanon.
Lebanon & International Child Abduction
Lebanon does not adhere to any protocols with respect to international parental child abduction. In 2004, the United States and Lebanon signed a Memorandum of Understanding to encourage voluntary resolution of abduction cases and facilitate consular access to abducted children.