The official religion in Kuwait is Islam, we have a minority of Christians that are Kuwaitis, as Article 2 of the Constitution states that “The religion of the State is Islam and Islamic Law shall be a main source of legislation.” Kuwait_Constitution_1962_en.pdf (worldbank.org) The Muslim community can be divided into two groups, the Sunni and Shia, the Sunni sect is according to the Maliki Fiqh, and the Shia sect is according to the Jaafari Ithna Ashari Fiqh (Twelve Imams).

Information About Muslim Family Laws And/or Practices In Kuwait

Main Laws Governing Muslims

Since the establishment of courts in November 1960 by the Amiri Decree No 19 for the year 1959 there was a chamber specifically for the Personal Status cases, back then it ruled by Fatwas according to Imam Malik for Sunnis and Fatwas of Imam Ja’afar ALSadiq (AS) for the Shias. It was amended several times then cancelled and replaced by Law no 21-2014 which regulates the Judiciary Profession.

In the years 1984 and 2019, two Laws were codified for the Personal Status, which included Family Law: –

  1. 1984 – Kuwait Personal Status Law (KPSL قانون رقم 51 لسنة 1984 في شأن الأحوال الشخصية ( 51 / 1984 ) – نظام المحامي ® | النظام الاول لادارة مكاتب المحاماة (almohami.com)) was codified (23-7-1984) and implemented in October 1984, with 347 articles that regulates all issues considering the family, from the start of the marriage till the inheritance, for both Muslim and Non-Muslim family cases. This is all according to the Maliki Fiqh.
  2.  2019 – Law No 124 For the KPSL Ja’afari sect. Codified on 25-8-2019https://arkanlaw.com/images/library_book/DveIw.اركان تنشر قانون الأحوال الجعفرية.pdf , with 510 articles that regulate all issues considering the family, before that the Fiqh Fatwas OF Sayed Ali Al-Sistani were implemented on family law cases for the Shia sect.

Equality in Marriage

The husband is obliged to pay the wife all the expenses (Appropriate housing – Food – Clothing) the wife doesn’t pay anything. The financial disclosure of the couple is separate; it is never merged.

Minimum Age of Marriage

17 for the groom, 15 for the bride, yet practically the age of marriage is 18 and above.

Divorce Provisions for Men and Women

Divorce is in the hands of the husband, the wife can only get a divorce if he willingly agrees, or by a court order in certain matters.

Positive Feature(s) Under Muslim Family Law

Muslim women have their own independent entity, in marriage, financial capacity, and a right to a decent treatment- emotionally and financially.  She gets to agree or not on the marriage proposal. Moreover, (wives, mothers, and daughters) are not obliged to support the spouse / children / family financially. Nonetheless, even if the wife is rich the husband has no business whatsoever with her financial capacity, the alimony depends totally on the husband’s income and budget. She also should not be neglected emotionally or financially, given decent housing, alimony, and treated with respect and love.

Administration Of And Access To Justice On Marriage And Family Matters

The marriage is a contract between the Groom and Bride with two male witnesses and the bride’s legal guardian (in the Shia sect if the bride is a divorced and non-virgin, she does not need a legal guardian to represent her), this procedure can be done without attending court if a marriage official is present (then the Marriage Contract should be authenticated at court), otherwise the Judge will carry out the marriage procedure.

The divorce procedure is different. Divorce is in the hands of the husband, the wife can only get a divorce if he willingly agrees, or by a court order in certain matters.

Constitutional Provisions and National Legislation

Constitutional Provisions

The Constitution in Kuwait made it clear in its provisions that men and women have equal rights. In the preamble it is stated that “a future which shall provide citizens with ample political freedom, equality and social justice ..”, several other articles which are ( 7, 8, 29, 175) all talk about equality and non – discrimination.

In reference to the religion the constitution states that the “Religion of the State is Islam and Islamic Law shall be a main source of legislation” which clearly gives the authority to the Islamic law to be the source of family laws.

Other National Laws Related to Marriage and Family Matters

  • Child Protection Rights Law 16 – 2015 (10-5-2015)https://www.moi.gov.kw/pss/Uploadedpdf/kuwait_kidrule.pdf
  • Establishing Family Courts Law No 12 -2015 (22-2-2015)https://www.moj.gov.kw/AR/Documents/MojDocs/021.pdf
  • Domestic Violence Law 16 – 2020 (20-9-2020)قانون رقم 16 لسنة 2020م في شأن الحماية من العنف الأسري – | المحامي مسفر عايض (mesferlaw.com)

Regional or International Human Rights Principles

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

Kuwait ratified CEDAW on 2 September 1994.https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=92&Lang=en Kuwaiti legislature considered CEDAW’s guidelines and recommendations arising from the Convention. The last CEDAW review was on 22 November 2017.

Any other relevant regional or international treaty or convention signed by Kuwait

  •  Other treatieshttps://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=92&Lang=EN
  1. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  (CAT)
  2. International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)
  3. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
  4. International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
  5. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  6. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC-OP-AC)
  7. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children in prostitution and pornography (CRC-OP-SC)
  8. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

Sustainable Development Goals

Kuwait’s “New Kuwait”https://www.mofa.gov.kw/en/kuwait-state/kuwait-vision-2035/ development strategy aims to transform the country into a regional financial, cultural, and institutional pioneer by 2035. Furthermore, as part of the SDG 5 program of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, and in collaboration with the Kuwait University Women’s Research and Studies Center, UN Women, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP) initiative in Kuwait was launched. The Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs)Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) | United Nations Development Programme (undp.org) Women’s Economic Empowerment Platform established in Kuwait – Kuwait Times are a set of guidelines for businesses on how to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace, and communityhttps://mesferlaw.com/archives/3859. They were developed by the United Nations Global Compact and UN Women. This initiative is geared toward the private sector and includes several companies. Its mission is to accelerate the implementation of Kuwait’s new Vision 2035 by increasing the representation of women in leadership positions. In 2021, 14 new private sector companies committed to the WEPs to better diversify their workplace and promote women’s employment, bringing the total number of companies who adhere to these principles to 44WEPs News update end of 2020.pdfKuwait rings bell for Women’s Empowerment on IWD – INTLBM.   (March 2022)

National Groups and Campaigns Working on Muslim Family Law

  • Among community awareness, legal aid, and working in cooperation with other Governmental Organizations and NGOs, the Parliament, Kuwait Bar Associationhttps://kuwaitlawyers.com/ ratified and implemented the Charter of fundamental principles on access to justice for women victims of violence, which was proclaimed by The UIA (Union Internationale des Avocats) Women’s Committee on March 2022.
  • Women Research and Study Centre.Home | WRSC (wrsc-kw.org)
  • Kuwait Democratic Forum launched a campaign on 11-5-2022 called “Amaan” to protect women against sexual violence, the campaign presented a draft non-punitive law that focused more on the victim than the perpetrator.https://alminbarkw.org/
  • Women Cultural and Social Centre.https://wcss-kw.org/ar/

Reform Timeline


Ministerial Decision No 10 / 1963 considering the Family Cases Court Chambershttps://www.moj.gov.kw/AR/Documents/MojDocs/021.pdf


Kuwait Personal Status Law (KPSL) was codifiedhttps://www.almohami.com/%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%85-51-%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%86%D8%A9-1984-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B4%D8%A3%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%AE%D8%B5%D9%8A%D8%A9/


KPSL Amended by Law No 61 / 1996 the number of Judges for First degree Court Chamber can be only 1


Ministerial Decision No 51/2004 amendments to case dismissal in Family Law cases among others


Amendments on KPSL by Law No29/2004


Amendments on KPSL by Law No 66/2007


Law No 31/2008 Implementing a medical examination for those who want to get married


Law No 12/2015 on Establishing Family Courtshttps://www.moj.gov.kw/AR/Documents/MojDocs/021.pdf


Law No 124/2019 For the KPSL Ja’afari secthttps://arkanlaw.com/images/library_book/DveIw.%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%86%20%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B1%20%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%B9%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9.pdf



This country page was prepared by Lawyer Jumanah Adnan Behbehani – Kuwait as a collaboration under the Campaign for Justice in Muslim Family Laws.