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How to File for Divorce in the UAE: A Guide for Muslim and Non-Muslim Expats

Divorce is a difficult and stressful process, especially when it involves different legal systems and cultural norms. If you are an expat living in the UAE and considering a divorce, you may have many questions and concerns about the procedures and implications of ending your marriage. In this article, we will explain the main steps and options for filing for divorce in the UAE, depending on whether you are a Muslim or a non-Muslim.

Filing for Divorce as a Muslim Couple

If you and your spouse are both Muslims, or if your husband is a Muslim and you are a non-Muslim, your divorce will be governed by the Sharia law, which is the Islamic law based on the Quran and the Sunnah. The Sharia law is also the main source of the UAE law, which applies to all citizens and residents of the country.

  • The first step to file for divorce as a Muslim couple is to register your case at the Family Guidance Section at the respective judicial department in the emirate where you live. This is a mandatory step, as the UAE law requires that the parties attempt to reconcile their differences before proceeding to court. 
  • A court-appointed conciliator will meet with you and your spouse separately and try to mediate and resolve the issues that led to the divorce. The conciliator will also explain your rights and obligations under the Sharia law, such as the payment of alimony, child support, and dowry.
  • If you and your spouse reach an amicable agreement, you can draft a settlement document and sign it before the conciliator. This will conclude your divorce without the need to go to court. However, if one or both of you insist on the divorce, the conciliator will issue a referral letter, allowing you to file your case in court. You have three months from the date of the letter to do so.
  • Once you file your case in court, you will have to present evidence and arguments to support your claims and defend yourself from your spouse’s claims. The court will decide on the validity and terms of the divorce, as well as the matters related to custody, visitation, inheritance, and property division. The court will apply the Sharia law and the UAE law to these matters, unless there is a prenuptial agreement or a mutual consent between the parties to apply a different law.

You should know: New Personal Law Changes: A Guide for Divorcing Parents and their Kids

Filing for Divorce as a Non-Muslim Couple

If you and your spouse are both non-Muslims, you have more options to file for divorce in the UAE. You can choose to apply the law of your home country, the law of the country where you got married, or the UAE law. You can also choose to file your divorce in your home country or in the UAE.

If you decide to file your divorce in the UAE, you will have to register your case at the Family Guidance Section, just like a Muslim couple. However, you can request that the conciliator apply the law of your choice to your divorce, instead of the Sharia law. You will have to provide proof of your nationality and the law of your country, such as a passport, a marriage certificate, or a legal opinion from a lawyer.

If you and your spouse agree on the divorce and its terms, you can sign a settlement document and finalize your divorce at the Family Guidance Section. However, if there is a dispute or a disagreement, you will have to file your case in court and present your evidence and arguments. The court will respect your choice of law, unless it contradicts the public order or the morals of the UAE. If the law of your country does not cover a certain aspect of the divorce, such as custody or inheritance, the court may apply the UAE law instead.

You may want to know: 5 Most Common Reasons For Divorce in UAE | How Expats Can File A Divorce In UAE?

How HHS Lawyers in Dubai Can Help You with Your Divorce in the UAE

If you are an expat who is going through a divorce in the UAE, you may face many legal challenges and complications. Depending on your religion, nationality, and personal circumstances, you may have to deal with different laws, procedures, and courts. You may also have to protect your rights and interests regarding matters such as custody, alimony, property, and inheritance.

That is why you need the professional guidance and representation of HHS Dubai Lawyers, one of the best law firms in UAE. Our team of experienced and qualified lawyers in Dubai can help you with every aspect of your divorce, from the initial conciliation to the final enforcement.

Our experienced and qualified Advocates can assist you with:

  • Choosing the most suitable and beneficial law to apply to your divorce, whether it is the Sharia law, the UAE law, or the law of your home country.
  • Drafting and reviewing the settlement agreement, if you and your spouse reach an amicable divorce.
  • Filing and presenting your case in court, if there is a dispute or a disagreement.
  • Negotiating and advocating for your best interests regarding custody, visitation, alimony, child support, property division, and inheritance.
  • Enforcing the court’s decision and ensuring that your spouse complies with the terms of the divorce.

We understand that divorce is a stressful and emotional process, and we are here to support you and make it as smooth and fair as possible. We will listen to your needs and concerns, and provide you with honest and practical advice. We will also communicate with you regularly and keep you updated on the progress of your case.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today and book a consultation with our expert divorce lawyers in Dubai UAE

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.