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UAE proposed new family law for non-Muslim expats

For non-Muslims, the UAE has published a Federal Civil Personal Status Law. A non-Muslim Personal Status Law in Abu Dhabi was implemented before the New Federal Law was passed.

This New Family Law for Non-Muslim Expats in the UAE has made modifications to non-Muslims' personal status issues. These changes pertain to issues like family guidance, mediation, and rights between the parties regarding testifying, inheritance, divorce, and custody. The New Federal Law established civil unions on a federal level and allowed both partners to file for divorce on an equal basis. Instances of alimony, child custody, inheritance, and paternity are all covered under the New Federal Law.

1. Application of New Family Law for Non-Muslim Expats in the UAE

In the following circumstances, New Family Law for Non-Muslim Expats in the UAE should be used:

  • It applies to foreigners living abroad as well as UAE residents who are not Muslims.
  • Non-Muslims living in the nation are exempt from some provisions of Federal Law No. (5) of 1985, unless one of them agrees to the application of his Law concerning marriage, wills, and parental evidence.
  • The parties subject to this Legislation's provisions may agree to apply another law governing family or personal status now in effect in the nation rather than using this Law's provisions.
  • The provisions of this Law will go into effect on February 1st, 2023.

2. What does it cover?

The New Family Law for Non-Muslim Expats in the UAE covers the following:

  • The Decree-Law rules govern the marriage requirements and the processes for contracting and registering the marriage with the appropriate courts.
  • The Decree-Law outlines the divorce processes that can be started jointly or independently.
  • It arranges shared custody of the children and the processes for resolving financial disputes following divorce.
  • The Decree-Law also organizes the processes for testaments (wills), inheritance, and paternity evidence.

3. Law encourages equal rights.

The New Family Law for Non-Muslim Expats in the UAE offers equality to men and women in their following rights and obligations:

  • Applicable to all Non- Muslim expats

Except for those who insist on adhering to their nation's Law, the new Legislation shall apply to all non-Muslims living in the UAE.

  • Equal right of Witness testimony, inheritance, joint custody and divorce to women

This Law gives women the same privileges as males in providing witness evidence, inheriting property, getting a divorce, and having joint custody of the children until they become 18 years old. After that, the children can choose which parent they want to live with. In court, a woman's testimony will be on par with a man's. Except in cases when one parent asks the court to exclude the other based on the child's best interests, custody is distributed equally to both parents.

  • Civil Marriage Contract

The New Family Law regulates civil marriage contracts, which are subject to several requirements, such as the need for both parties to be over 21 and a declaration form to be signed in front of a court.

4. Introduction of No-fault Divorce in the UAE

Under the new rule, only one spouse must notify the court of their intention to divorce, with no need to defend, explain, or assign blame to the other spouse. Without demonstrating any wrongdoing during their marriage, they are permitted to ask for a divorce.

5. UAE Marriage law

The New Federal Law accepts the idea of civil marriages and stipulates the requirements below:

  1. The groom and the bride must be at least 21 and agree to the marriage.
  2. Marriage cannot be between individuals who have certain levels of prohibited relationships as defined by the relevant executive rules.

An official of the court may end the marriage process by providing the proper paperwork needed by the court. The parties' rights may be mentioned both during and after the marriage.

you may want to know: New Law on Divorce and Civil Marriage for Non-Muslims in Abu Dhabi

6. Factors to Consider When Calculating wife Alimony

The court can determine the amount of alimony that must be given to a divorced woman based on the divorce. The Legislation has stated various possible elements for calculating this sum, such as:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • Age of wife
  • Financial asset transfer
  • Each spouse's financial situation
  • The amount to which the spouse contributed to the divorce
  • Compensation for any financial or spiritual harm caused by the divorce by either spouse
  • Financial consequences of a unilateral divorce

If the woman remarries or custody is terminated for any reason, her alimony will be lost. Furthermore, if the conditions change after one year, the wife may seek an increase in alimony.

You may want to know: Alimony of wife in the UAE: All you need to know

7. The Concept of Joint Custody is Introduced

The New Federal Law requires shared custody of children until they reach the age of 18. As a result, people will have the ability to choose. Either parent may seek the removal of the other parent who has exposed the kid to an improper environment, among different scenarios detailed in the implementing executive rules. In the case of a dispute between the parents, they may petition the court for a ruling on custody issues. In custody disputes, the overriding rule is still in the child's best interest. HHS lawyers in Dubai will help you.

For more information about the proposed new family law for non-Muslim expats in the UAE, don't hesitate to contact our Marriage 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.