The bride is asked in the absence of the prospective groom if she agrees to the marriage and this question is then put to the groom.
After agreement, the groom joins hands with his future father-in-law and, with two witnesses present, the marriage becomes official.
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Finally, on the last night of celebrations, the couple meet, accompanied by all their friends, and eventually leave on their honeymoon.
On their return, they either set up home with the groom’s parents and become members of the extended family or – as is increasingly the case – set up home by themselves.
He can claim custody of any sons when they reach the age of ten.
A female divorcee usually returns to her family, and few remarry.
The major disadvantage of concubinage is that it isn’t recognised under French inheritance laws, so partners can inherit only the amount allowed to non-relatives and they receive no state pension when their partner dies.
A pacte civile de solidarité, which is signed at a court, confers some but not all of the legal benefits of marriage.
In fact, a Muslim woman can insert a clause in the marriage contract that restricts her husband from marrying another woman for as long as the contract is valid. Although gender roles have always been clearly defined in the Islamic world, with the man as ‘provider’ and the woman as ‘nurturer’, both man and wife are increasingly going out to work, although this is much less common in Saudi Arabia, where there are restrictions on women working, except in culturally ‘acceptable’ occupations such as medicine and teaching.
However, many Saudi men are reluctant to marry doctors and nurses, who have been exposed to male bodies.
A man can divorce his wife simply by saying ‘I divorce you’ three times.