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Looking for a better divorce settlement, Jordanian Christian men convert to Islam

Christian women in Jordan are at the mercy of Shariah courts over child custody when their husbands convert to Islam.
Jordanian Christians attend mass at the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Amman, in memory of the Egyptians beheaded in Libya, February 18, 2015. Christians in Amman held the prayer service, which was attended by representatives of the churches in Jordan, for the Egyptian Christians beheaded by Islamic State in Libya last week. REUTERS/ Muhammad Hamed (JORDAN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW) - RTR4Q4Y0

AMMAN, Jordan — After years of marital disputes, Mary learned that her Christian husband, Michael, had filed for divorce. Mary was surprised when at the same time, he announced his conversion to Islam. It was a calculated decision. According to Article 172 of Jordan’s Personal Status Law, a Muslim father automatically gets custody of children ages seven and above when divorcing a Christian woman. Mary (not her real name) told Al-Monitor that her three children, ages 7, 14 and 16, currently live with her ex-husband and she cannot raise them because she is Christian.

A Nov. 16 investigative article by veteran journalist Nadine Nimri for the online magazine 7iber triggered public debate in Jordan about the plight of Christian women whose husbands convert to Islam before divorcing them for the specific purpose of obtaining guardianship of their children and side-stepping church courts’ jurisdiction.

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