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How to Divorce for Expats in UAE?

When marriages end, they get complicated. There are a number of legal matters that require resolution – parenting custody, properties, and finances among others. Divorce in UAE among expats is actually high as Emiratis only make up a third of all legal separation cases in the country. Also, it is important to get educated on the matter as one in four marriages in the country end in divorce eventually. 

Also Read: Divorce Procedure By Mutual Consent

According to the UAE government, divorce cases have reached high records and this can be attributed by several reasons such as poor communication between the spouses, marital infidelity, financial strain, cultural and religious clashes or simply differences in expectations regarding the marriage 

Regardless of the reason for the divorce, it is best to handle marital troubles amicably. If separation is only the route that is practical for a married couple, then it has to be made official. 

In order to give you a clear picture as to what is involved with divorce for expats in UAE, we’ve put together a guide that will explain the process in detail. 

Foreign nationals may divorce in UAE if they meet the following conditions:

  • They’re UAE residents;
  • Their divorce application in UAE follows the marriage laws in their home countries; 
  • Divorce is possible in their home countries 

If parties plan on applying the legislation related to marriage and divorce from their home country, then they must file a petition before UAE courts under Federal Law 2005 No. 28 for Personal Affairs Article 1. 

If the wife and the husband are of different nationals, the procedure will be more complicated as the laws of their home countries can differ from each other. There may be legal problems related to child custody, child support, asset division, and more. 

Expats in the United Arab Emirates may file for divorce that’s under the UAE government. This means when a local court in UAE is being summoned, it will be the one to decide on the divorce proceedings. This also means the wife and the husband are to follow the Sharia Law rather than the legislation of their respective home countries. 

Take note: this can lead to certain parties being unhappy as to the outcome of legal proceedings. They may request for an appeal and an appeal will result to another set of emotional and financial discussions. It is advised to seek the legal counsel of divorce lawyers in UAE to settle matters raised by parties to a divorce. 

Divorce Legislation for a Muslim Couple in UAE

If the married couple is Muslim, or if one party is Muslim, then the Sharia law can be applied for divorce proceedings. For a situation wherein one spouse wants divorce while the other wishes to reconcile, it will be eligible for a case for divorce. 

Also Read: Divorce Leading to Child Custody cases under UAE law

How to File Divorce in UAE?

  • Seek the guidance and legal advice of experienced and reputable divorce lawyers in UAE
  • As soon as parties have heard what divorce lawyers have to say regarding the divorce process specific for the couple, then the wife or the husband may register a case for divorce in a local judicial department;
  • Court-appointed conciliators are to work with the married couple seeking a divorce in order to reconcile the parties (sessions are mandatory); 
  • When both parties to a divorce decide to push through with the case, a conciliator will issue a referral letter and this will establish the fact that both parties are of sound mind when making the choice of legally separating; 
  • A conciliator’s referral letter will permit a couple in the proceeding and concluding official separation. The letter is to be furnished to a UAE court within 3 months from the date of issuance; 
  • As soon as the case is lodged into the court, parties to the divorce are to provide evidence that will support claims for divorce. Defence is also to be provided against claims of either party;
  • The wife and the husband both need to be clear and straightforward regarding the concerns they have following the divorce while discussing with legal representatives. Concerns may include asset division for property, children and pets custody, as well as understanding regarding support for wife and children;
  • The parties to a divorce are to draft a settlement that they have agreed regarding the outcomes of divorce; 
  • The case will be presented to a judge and the couple is to convince the judge that marriage won’t work. A couple seeking divorce is to prove that it is capable of having an orderly legal separation. Also, there has to be proof that children from the couple’s union will still be given sufficient care, attention, and protection. The decision of the judge will be final. 

Do you have questions regarding divorce for expats in UAE? If so, call us today for a consultation with divorce lawyers. 

Hazim Darwish

Hazim Darwish, is a Senior Partner of HHS Lawyers in UAE. Practicing law for almost a decade, he has in-depth knowledge on UAE legislation with particular expertise on legal drafting, contract drafting, labor disputes, family law, and regulatory compliance for business organizations. Hazim Darwish also provides counsel on legal rights and obligations in the UAE to clients, including individuals and businesses subject to investigation or prosecution under Criminal Law by major regulators.