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family law


August 18, 2018

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My pregnant wife wants a divorce and has left the UAE - what can I do?

Question: My wife and I are Muslims who married in Dubai six months ago. Recently, we had an argument and she moved out of our house while I was at work. She is pregnant with our first child but she now wants a divorce. I do not want to get divorced. She will not answer my calls and after she moved out, I went to police. I have since been told by immigration authorities that she has left the UAE. What can I do now?

Answer: You may file for an "obeying lawsuit" to bring her back to your family home. However, such a case cannot be enforced in the UAE. Article 6 of the UAE Personal Status Law (Federal law No 28 of 2005) allows you to file for divorce even if your spouse's whereabouts is unknown as long as your domicile is within the country.

You should also try to prove paternity of your child when it is born. This will allow you to impose a travel ban on your child should your wife return to the UAE. You can also request the court to obligate your wife to hand over your child's passport.

Question: My husband and I got recently divorced in the UAE. We have two children and a court decided to give me custody over them, but to make my ex-husband their guardian. I have been offered a job in another country and want to move there with our children. When I shared my plans with their father, he told me that I am not allowed to leave the country with our children without his consent. I cannot leave the children with him because he travels a lot for work, up to weeks at a time, and is unable to take care of them. How can I take our children with me and avoid breaking the law?

Answer: It is impossible to go on holiday or move abroad with your children without their father's consent. It is recommended to persuade their father and obtain such consent in an amicable way rather than starting any procedures against him as they all might lead to losing your rights as a custodian. Clause No 2 of Article No 152 of the UAE Personal Status states that a custodian could lose their rights should they relocate and make it difficult for the children's guardian to visit them.

The above information might not apply if both parties are non-muslim. Starting from the 1st of February 2023, UAE issued specific family law to be applied between non-muslim expatriate residents in case none of them wanted to apply his/her home country's law in the UAE. To know more information about this law, please feel free to click this link.

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