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April 27, 2018
Three years ago, I married my colleague who already had two children from her first marriage and was widowed. I too have three children from a previous marriage. We are both Asian nationals living in the UAE and our marriage was registered in our home country.
When we married, we verbally agreed that we would each be responsible for our own finances as she was, and still is, earning more money than me. After some time, she began insisting that we have a baby together but I was reluctant because I was not financially stable. She insisted that she would financially support the child so I agreed and we had our son. His visa and annual insurance are now registered in my name.
Now we mean to be separated but she is asking that I refund her three years of expenses for herself and our child, which is against the verbal agreement we had (that she admits to).
We no longer work together but she often comes to my office and threatens me in front of my colleagues. Sometimes she will bring our son with her too. I have offered to bear the expenses of our son but said I cannot afford his baby-sitting charges. My questions are:
Question 1: What is the best way to get out of this situation?
Answer: The best way to exit your situation is to start negotiations. It mandatory by UAE Law, and in accordance with the article No. 16 of the UAE Personal Status Law, you have the right to file an application to the Family Guidance Unit in the Family Court requesting they help you reconcile with your wife or at least help reach an amicable solution to satisfy you both.
Although involving Family Guidance is a mandatory step before filing a case in the court, in your case it is also mandatory as it could help avoid a lawsuit. If you could reach an amicable solution, you could sign a contract between you and your wife that includes the agreed terms and conditions. To ensure your interests are protected even after reaching an amicable solution with your wife, it is advised you have your agreement reviewed by your lawyer.
Question 2: I cannot afford the sum she is demanding - which is Dh2,000 for each month from the time we got married to date. What can I do to avoid this?
Answer: You have two options to choose from: the first is that you bring witnesses who saw her admit that she is waving her rights for financial support. If this option does not work or you cannot provide witnesses, you still may have the right to request from the court to get a statement from her under Oath (called as "Yameen Hassema") on whether she accepted to waive her financial rights for the past 36 months or not. The judge has a discretionary power on whether or not to accept the witnesses' statements, but in case your wife provides the statement under Oath on your request, the judge would not have discretionary power to disagree with her statements. So please think carefully if you decide to request the court get the statement under Oath from your wife, as this step will have a major impact on the outcome of the case.
Question 3: Is it better to pursue the divorce case here in the UAE or in our home country? If ever I give her divorce in our home country, can she claim maintenance in UAE courts after our divorce?
Answer: It does not make any difference if you file for divorce here or in your home country as in both cases, as long as you are holding the UAE resident visa, your wife shall still have the right to file a maintenance claim against you here in the local courts.
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.