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Are you an expat and looking for a divorce in the UAE? Things you must know

People who were married outside the country and are present residents of the UAE can usually seek Divorce through civil processes or personal religious convictions. Contrary to popular belief, many foreigners choose to go via the UAE court system to handle their divorces since it is both speedier and less expensive in the long run.

In the UAE, mutually agreed-upon divorces can be concluded in as little as one month. When dealing with a failing marriage, most people consider Divorce to be their last option. However, many foreigners are uninformed of how Divorce works in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Most overseas expatriates have issues ranging from jurisdiction to child custody to the legal reasons for Divorce.

Laws relating to Divorce for expats in the UAE

It should be emphasized that divorce decrees for Muslim marriages can be obtained under Sharia Law, whilst divorce processes for non-Muslim marriages can be obtained by Federal Law No. 28 of 2008, generally known as the Personal Status Law. Non-Muslims are permitted to use personal laws of the nation where their marriage was solemnized under this policy—provided that they have legalized copies of their country’s rules translated and certified by a translator and the Ministry of Justice.

Non-Muslims may use provisions of Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 regulating personal status (the ‘Personal Status Law’). It permits them to employ the laws of their native country under which their marriage was solemnized to seek a divorce decision under Sharia Law in the UAE. It complies with Article 1(2) of the UAE Personal Status Legislation, which states: “Unless non-Muslim nationals of the United Arab Emirates have specific rules relevant to their community or confession, the provisions of this law will apply to them. They will apply equally to citizens and non-citizens until one of them specifically requests that his law be applied.”

You should know: Divorce in UAE and Division of Property and Assets

Procedure for seeking Divorce in the UAE for Expats

  1. Individuals must first contact the Personal Status Court’s Family Guidance Section with an application and a marriage document
  2. A counsellor will listen to the individuals’ resentment and reconcile both parties to salvage the marriage. 
  3. If one or both parties do not agree to join forces, the counsellor will urge both parties to bring the conditions of settlement and Divorce.
  4. If one of the parties disagrees with the terms of the Divorce and settlement, they can file a disputed divorce in the Personal Status Court. 
  5. As a result, the Personal Status Court’s Family Guidance Section will issue a letter for a disputed divorce that will be definitive for three months. 
  6. If the couple agrees to Divorce, the Personal Status Court will issue each party an Arabic-translated divorce certificate.

You may want to know: New Law reform relating to Divorce in the UAE

Things to know when seeking a Divorce in the UAE

  1. Custody of children and child support

     According to UAE law, the biological mother of a child is the custodian, while the father is the guardian. Custody, which is frequently granted to the mother, entails day-to-day care, such as education, medical treatment, religious counselling, and accommodation. The guardian is responsible for financial assistance; often, the father is appointed as guardian. In the United Arab Emirates, custody and guardianship are distinct concepts. A minor child is often given to the mother. She must demonstrate that she is sensible, mature, honest, disease-free, and capable of raising a child. Furthermore, she is not permitted to remarry without the court’s authorization. If a father is granted custody, he must have a woman – such as a female relative – at home to care for the kid.

  2. Separation of property

    Property split is a different aspect of Divorce. It may apply to anything in the UAE, from bank accounts and real estate to companies and automobiles. In general, each party will keep all property or assets that are in their name. Furthermore, a court would distribute joint assets equally between the two parties, like bank accounts in both partners’ names. Real estate is a crucial factor, particularly the marital home. Judges prefer to allocate the matrimonial house to the caretaker so that the children may live as normally as possible when their parents separate.

  3. Maintenance for a spouse

    When the Divorce is finalized, the husband is required to support his former wife financially. A husband must provide food, clothes, and proper housing for his ex-wife and children. The father is also responsible for paying for his children’s education and the salary of any domestic worker, such as a maid or a driver. Spousal maintenance can be up to 30% of the husband’s salary, but he can pay more if he wants to.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the subject. This article was produced with great care to ensure correctness. Because individual circumstances may vary, it is not meant to give legal advice or predict a specific conclusion. Readers considering legal action should seek legal advice from an experienced divorce attorney to learn about current laws and how they may apply to their case.

Don’t hesitate to contact our Best Divorce lawyers in Dubai if you require any legal assistance on the subject presented or related issues.

M. Al Khatem

Trademark & Intellectual Property

M. Al Khatem is a senior Trademark and Intellectual Property (IP) expert in HHS Lawyers. He has handled some of the firm’s complex, high-profile cases – many involving the protection of trademark and IP rights.