Family Dispute Law Passes National Assembly

A draft law detailing court procedures for divorces, child support obligations and other family disputes was passed unanimously at the National Assembly yesterday.

All 100 lawmakers present at the Assembly yesterday voted in favor of the “draft law on complaint procedures involving individuals,” which adds detail to existing legal procedures on family law.

The draft law provides municipal and provincial courts with the power to temporarily confiscate assets during divorce cases, ensuring that parties do not sell off property before a verdict.

It also gives courts the power to make custody decisions for the children of divorcing parents, to order child support payments and to impose fines of up to $250 if parties do not meet their court-ordered obligations in family disputes.

Despite her party’s support of the law, however, SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua urged the government to create a family court.

“We support to form the family court to judge the family disputes and find justice for those cases,” Ms Sochua told the Assembly yesterday.

“We know that the issues related to divorce or marriage or property is always last to trial at the municipal court or the provincial court. If there is not a resolution, it would affect the children and the society.”

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana said the law added detail to civil procedures for dealing with marriage, divorce and child support payments.

“This will add to the civil code, relating to the personal complaints,” Mr Vong Vathana said.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap told the Assembly that he supported the law because it outlined family law issues that were not clear in the code of civil procedures which took effect in 2007.

“I totally support to approve it and I agree with the government to make this law,” Mr Yeap said. “The civil code did not [provide enough] detail.”

SRP lawmaker and party spokesman Yim Sovann said divorce was a very important issue in Cambodia, but that the public did not have faith in the how the court system decided family law issues.

“The personal issues [is something] that the politicians were not interested in and the court officials did the corruption,” Mr Sovann said. “The people [relied] on the court to find the justice for them but now they [feel] hopeless about the justice system.”

Cambodian Defenders Project Executive Director Sok Sam Oeun said the draft law was “not bad” but said it was unclear why the law became necessary.

“If the civil code provided more detailed information regarding these matters, then this new law would not be necessary,” he said.

    (Additional reporting by Mark Worley)


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