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Tunisian Law: Child / children / kids with a Tunisian husband or wife



I agree this happens both ways in many countries and its not fair on which ever party its happening to. Can he not try seek legal advice on the behalf of his child as clearly this childs welfare is not been properly looked after. Maybe not asking for help for himself but help for his child may be a loop hole in the legal system not sure but worth a try.


You know it also happens the other way round :rolleyes: maybe thats why the law was set up how it is in Tunisia........

A young lad we know has been here 7 mths, they have a young son and been married a few years. The wife is muslim (converted) and lived with him for 6mths in Tunisia before they came to the UK. They lived with her wealthy family until he asked that they find their own place together (her family were drinking alot and he wasnt comfortable with it) His wife become ill before they could do this and ended up being sectioned. (She has had previous metal health problems)

He was kicked out of the family home, has not seen his son for 4mths, is now living in a shared house. The family took his passport and accused him of violence (her cousin is a police officer and called at his previous place of work and advised them NOT to employ him!) The home office have now been in touch and told him they believe he is no longer living with his wife!

He has said he would go home but the home office have his passport (so he was told) He is walking 15 miles a day to wash cars at a car wash earning cash-in-hand to feed himself and pay for his room. The local group of Tunisians are now helping him to pay for a solicitor and find out his rights and what is happening with his son. They will not tell him where his wife is or how she is. He has been to may hospitals only to be told they cannot tell him anything.

Until his wife is well enough to sort this out, the family are making his life a nightmare.
He is the woman's next of kin as her husband and so he is the one who should be informed of her whereabouts and wellbeing if she is sectioned. He is also the only other adult with parental responsibility so his rights to his son are greater than her family's - he is within his rights to go to the family home and walk away with the child. He needs no money to pay for a solicitor - he will get legal aid as he has no income - he could go into any citizen's advice bureau also and they will inform him of the same. If the cousin is a police officer and has used her position in this way then he needs to report to the police station to inform a higher ranking member of the police of her actions.


As he has no idea where his wife is or where the child is......its kinda hard for him to see either. He went to a solicitor and was told he was NOT entitled to any legal help. Maybe will get them to look at this again. Think Im goning to get more involved and try to find something out for him.


I collected some information together about this subject, because I think it's so important to know and to discuss with the Tunisian man BEFORE you get married to him!

Most of the information is coming from Tunisianbelle, who has a great knowledge about this subject!
So some off the remarks you will recognize aswell as written by Tunisianbelle;)

When one of the parents is Tunisian, a child is considered Tunisian regardless of the child’s place of birth or whether the child had acquired the nationality of another country.

Children of a Tunisian father, no matter where they are born, have always automatically (also) the Tunisian nationality/citizenship and will be considered during a stay in Tunisia only being Tunisian nationals who may enter (and leave) only with tunisian identity documents.
Since 2010, the same is true for children of a Tunisian mother.

This means that western embassies will not be able to intervene in case of any problems (they only can do that for citizens who do NOT have the citizenship of the host country).

Each child of a Muslim father receives by birth automatically the religion "Islam".

Entering and Leaving Tunisia with a Tunisian child:
When the mother or father is Tunisian, the child has automatically the Tunisian Nationality.
Therefore the child is only allowed to enter and to leave with Tunisian passport.

If upon entry, passport control deems your child a Tunisian citizen (because father is Tunisian) and they are trying to enter the country without a Tunisian passport, they can deny them entry and will make arrangements to send them back on the next available flight. If it happens upon exit, you will not be allowed to leave the country until a Tunisian passport has been issued for your child. Some people have said they have been able to enter/exit without having a Tunisian passport for their child, but others have not been so lucky. It really depends on how strict the particular passport control officer you get is. It is a chance you take each and every time.

Entering and Leaving Tunisia with a Tunisian child, without the Tunisian father present;
When the mother is traveling with a Tunisian child without the Tunisian father with them, the mother needs a letter of authorisation from your husband saying he gives permission for the children to travel with you, you need to quote his id number and flight dates etc then get his signature. You have to get this legalized by the Municipalty.
If you do not have this legalized authorization, the authorities are fully within the rights of the law to deny your child exit from the country. You will be permitted to leave, but honestly, what mother wants to leave without her child?

Tunisian law will favor Tunisian kids to stay in Tunisia in Custody disputes?
Yes and no.
If her husband is not Muslim, then Tunisia will "allow" the children to stay with her forever.

However, if her husband IS Muslim, Tunisia will follow Islamic law, which says that at the age of 7 for boy, and 9 for girls they should live with their father if he so requests.

Of course, the father would most likely have to file the motions here.
I should note that this is NOT always the case though. Tunisian courts also look at which parent is better equipped to care for the child. So if a woman can prove that she can better care for the child(ren), then she would most likely be awarded custody.

And according to Tunisian law, if the mother is awarded custody, the father must pay child support and spousal support to ensure the children are well taken care of.

After a divorce in Tunisia, like in Europe, both parents of a child are awarded custody and it is usually exercised by the mother (because the child usually lives with her).
However, there are rights in Tunisia, which always remain with father.

For example, a Muslim father always has the right to determine the place of residence for his children.
As a result, a child cannot leave the country, even not together with its mother, without the written approval of the father.

This explicit approval can not be overridden by a prenuptial agreement (or a "permanent consent" clause) - the father can, at any time, even in the last minute, change his mind.

In other words: the mother has the "right" to raise her child, but the father is the custodian and decides in all legal matters on behalf of the child.

The so-called "abduction" of a child by its muslim father in a muslim country is, under the laws of these countries, not an "abduction", but the legal exercise of the paternal rights.

Tunisia has not signed the "Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction".

The bottom line is that a father can refuse his child at any time (until it is of legal age) to leave Tunisia.

A western woman receives the custody of her Muslim child in Tunisia only as long as she

1) lives in Tunisia - and -
2) she guarantees that the child is educated in accordance with Islamic principles and in a morally proper environment

A mother might, for example, loose the custody when she remarries to a non-Muslim or even when she lives unmarried together with a man.

Stipulations and postnuptial in marriage contract:
You can put stipulations in your marriage contracts. Many women stipulate that the man must pay for their education, or (in countries where it is allowed) that the husband must not take a second wife, or a number of other things. If this child abduction worries you so much, sit down with your loved one and write out a stipulation that you both agree on.
Or if you are already married do a postnuptial

Important to know:
Regardless of whether you are married or not, when one of the parents is Tunisian, your child is considered Tunisian.

You should also know that at any time, the father can easily apply for and obtain a Tunisian passport for the child without your knowledge or consent either at the Tunisian Embassy where you live, or here in Tunisia.

According to Tunisian law, even if the father is not listed on the birth certificate, if he is/was married to you or living with you at the time of conception, the child is automatically considered his. If the father just declares that the child is his, the child will then be considered his. Or if two male witness state that the child is the fathers, the child will be considered his.
Because of this dual citizenship, your child would be subjected to Tunisian law as a Tunisian citizen while in Tunisia, and NO embassy will get involved.

Tunisia has not signed any international child abduction treaties, so the very most that any embassy could offer is to do a welfare check - they can check on the child one or two times a year at the residence (but have no authority to go inside the residence unless allowed/invited) to verify the child still lives there and looks to be in good health.

None of this is meant to scare you in any way, but rather to make you aware of what the laws states. Forewarned is forearmed.
You should discuss children and all situations BEFORE marriage.
This is true as my daughter was refused to come back to the UK twice even with my husband present , I had to fly back to the UK myself until my husband got a letter from the minister of Interior to let her leave , they also wanted money from me at monastir airport , I would recommend any1 to be very carefull when taking there child to tunisia

Big Bang Theory

Senior Rat Expert
This is true as my daughter was refused to come back to the UK twice even with my husband present , I had to fly back to the UK myself until my husband got a letter from the minister of Interior to let her leave , they also wanted money from me at monastir airport , I would recommend any1 to be very carefull when taking there child to tunisia

Hi Batgirl, is your husband Tunisian ? If so, please can you let us know why they wouldn't let your daughter leave even though he was with you. And how he got a letter from the minister of Interior so that she could leave.

Thank you and I'm glad that it worked out for you in the end :)


I always thought the father had to give permission. Wonder if this has changed under the new government?

Big Bang Theory

Senior Rat Expert


Major Ratslayer
No, the law hasn't changed, ANY child with Tunisian nationality, even if the child has double nationality, should have a legalised authorisation of the tunisian father to be able to get out of the country (with his mother or anybody else).
Impossible otherwise, this law is strictly applicated! Have seen cases where the foreign mother just couldn't leave with her child...

Big Bang Theory

Senior Rat Expert
I was told that the law has now changed (in the past couple of weeks) and you no longer need the fathers written consent to take your child out of Tunisia. This is word of mouth (but from someone very reliable) so awaiting confirmation.....
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The Punchy Scot


Major Ratslayer
What i was told is that it all has to do with the passport ,if the woman has a tunisian passport then she is allowed ,if she dosnt she still needs permission from the father ..