Child Custody Case In International Spotlight Heard In Wenatchee
The Washington Appeals Court will decide after hearing a high-profile child custody case with international intrigue at Wenatchee High School Tuesday.
Bethany Alhaidari is battling her ex-husband from Saudi Arabia over custody of their child.
The Appeals Court Division III from Spokane traveled to Wenatchee to hear three cases Tuesday, with the custody battle receiving the most attention of them.
Alhaidari fled Saudi Arabia with her child in 2019, claiming she was forced into a conciliation agreement with her husband after the Saudi court granted a divorce between her and Ghassan Alhaidari, but did not grant her alimony.
The Saudi court decision allowed for joint custody of the couple's child but prevented Bethany Alhaidari from traveling overseas with the child for more than 28 days.
In 2020, Bethany sought legal protection in Chelan County and was granted custody of the child. The court also blocked Ghassan from having contact with the child.
Ghassan then filed to have the Saudi court's conciliation agreement enforced here.
Chelan County Superior Court Judge Kristin Ferrera ruled against enforcement of the Saudi decision, pointing out that Saudi Arabian laws deny women, non-Muslims and non-Saudi citizens due process.
Ferrera decision against enforcing the Saudi court decision said women are not treated as equal to men in Saudi Arabia.
Bethany is an American citizen, a non-Muslim and not a citizen of Saudi Arabia.
Ghassan Alhaidari is appealing Ferrera’s decision.
Bethany lives in the Wenatchee Valley with her now eight-year-old daughter, Zaina.
She's an activist who has worked as a human rights consultant and has operated a charity called saudijustice.org.
Alhaidari has a PHD in Human Rights Law and is now Executive Director Sage Advocacy Center, the Wenatchee area advocacy group for victims of abuse.
Human Rights Watch submitted an amicus brief in the appeal court case, saying Alhaidari would face a “serious risk of corporal punishment, lengthy imprisonment, and the death penalty” if she were to return to Saudi Arabia to accompany her daughter, if the court ruled to send Zaina back.
Cases out of Douglas County and Grant County superior courts were also heard with oral arguments during the Appeals Court's hearing in Wenatchee Tuesday.