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Binational marriages and children in Tunisia

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Binational Marriages

In most western countries, there is a social order that is not just different to the one in Tunisia, but in many cases even completely contradictory.

These significant differences will not make marriages between Westerners and Tunisians impossible by principle, but the success rate in the long term is not very high, unless on of the partners submits to the other - not to speak about the often encountered "Bezness marriages".

The absolute prerequisite for a marriage with a Tunisian ought to be, for the western part, to know the tunisian society. However, a profound knowledge can on only be obtained after multiple years of living in Tunisia - and the same is also true vice versa.

Not without any reason, serious problems begin after living in "foreign" countrys for 2-3 years, when the initial naive optimism and the denial of reality disappears. Neither are the western countries anything like the "Land of Cockaigne", in which people only wait for the mostly untrained Tunisians to arrive and ot offer them high-paid jobs, nor is Tunisia a country where one can live happily in a friendly, peaceful and relaxed environment.

Another point is the issue of integration - it is difficult and sometimes not even desired - both, for Tunisians and Westerners.

Westerners who live in Tunisia have, in almost all cases, assets or receive payments from their home country - in this regard, they are not really forced to integrate into the society and/or receive any welfare, jobs, etc.

On the contrary, Tunisian who move to Europe, need in almost all cases financing, either by finding work or by claiming welfare. They will, in most cases, fail, if they are not willing to integrate into the society and rather persist, like a rock in the surf, on their cultural identity.

If they do not succeed to adjust or gain a success fast, they will even more try to find salvation in their own culture and traditions.
There is, therefore, a big difference between  well-situated Westerners who see themselves as "guests", even long-term, in Tunisia and bring their own money into the country and Tunisians, who move into another country and must there become a part of the society, since they depend on finding a job or getting welfare in that country.

Westerners who live in Tunisia and are married to Tunisians face, however, a more important issue, especially when they are females. Their personal freedom and independence will be curtailed near the family in Tunisia or even in the tunisian society in general (not even because the husbands wants it, but because of the family and the whole society) - and, in this regard, integration is not only expected, but almost unavoidable.

There is a whole lot information about this topic available in the WWW, along with reports of personal experiences - the links here and here list some places to start a research.

Children of tunisian fathers

Children of a Tunisian father, regardless of where they are born, will always obtain the Tunisian citizenship by birth. Being Tunisians, they are regarded in Tunisia not as being bi-nationals, but as being true (and only) Tunisians.
This means that Western embassies can and will not intervene in most cases of problems (they are allowed to do so only if a person does not have the citizenship of the host country).

As the father of a tunisian child (up to the age of 18) has the unconditional right of determination of residence for the child, a tunisian child who wants to leave Tunisia must always present the written consent of its father (even when it is accompanied by the mother!).
This consent is strictly controlled at the foreign police posts on the exit points of Tunisia (airports, ports, border posts) - if the consent cannot be presented, the child will be denied to leave the country - without exceptions.

This consent cannot be fixed by a "marriage contract" or any contract at all - the father can always, at any time, change his decision, even in the very last second at an airport

This leads in some cases of children of western mothers and tunisian fathers to severe cases of conflict, if, for example, the father travels with his child to Tunisia and then denies it to leave the country ("child abduction").

The "International agreement on the Hague Child Abduction" has not been signed by Tunisia (as well as not eg. by Egypt, Libya or Algeria). Therefore, in cases of child abductions, the embassies or international entities (courts etc.) cannot help.

Whether the mother is entitled to custody or not, she still has not the power to determine the residence in Tunisia (and some other Arab countries). In theory, she could try to enforce her rights in a Tunisian court, but the result will be, in most cases, negative and will always require significant time and financial expenses.

If a mother is not absolutely certain that their children will be able to leave Tunisia, there is nothing else that can be done than not let them visit Tunisia at all until their 18th birthday (and for safety reasons, no other Arab countries either, in case the father tries to enforce his right there).

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.

And since we are on this issue - the custody for children can only obtained by a western woman, when she lives in Tunisia. Even if, in a "marriage contract", another agreement was taken, it will be void, because it violates Tunisian national law and custom.
The chance that a tunisian court will rule otherwise is next to nothing.

Please visit also the Website
which discusses relations with tunisans in more detail!

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