Jeremy D. Morley
Return of children abducted to or in Lebanon
- Jeremy Morley has testified as an expert witness on several occasions in U.S. courts with respect to the laws and practices of Lebanon in respect of international child abduction to Lebanon, and his testimony has been accepted and relied upon.
- There are extreme difficulties in returning a child to the United States or other countries 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 spouses 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 in Lebanon 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. Dual nationals who carry Lebanese papers will be treated as Lebanese nationals by security authorities.
- A child who is a dual foreign 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 to a left-behind parent even if there were a United States court order directing the return of the child from Lebanon.
- Threats of criminal prosecution are often counter-productive
- Prevention is the best cure.