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December 24, 2015
Question: My husband and I recently filed for a divorce in Australia after 25 years of marriage. Under the custodial arrangement, issued by Australian high courts, I have full legal custody of my children (a boy aged 12 and a girl, 14). The court also decided on a financial order which gives me the right to monthly spousal maintenance payments along with housing allowance. Both of us are planning to move to Dubai next year because of a job offer. I am afraid that my ex-husband will not pay spousal maintenance and housing allowance once we leave Australia. Is there anything I can do under the UAE laws?
Answer: From a legal standpoint, you have two possible strategies to ensure that your ex-husband continues to honour the court order issued by Australian courts. You have a right to file for an enforcement of foreign judgment application before the court of first instance in Dubai. Under section 235 of the Civil Code, foreign orders may be enforced in the UAE within the local courts.
Article 235 of the civil law imposes various conditions such as:
a) that there should be an agreement to reciprocally enforce judgments between foreign states and the UAE;
b) that Dubai courts did not have original jurisdiction to deal with the matter;
c) Australian order was produced by a competent court following Australian laws;
d) Both parties were given notice of the hearing and attended or were represented during the hearings;
e) That the court had full jurisdiction to render an order;
f) Lastly, the order does not conflict with orders previously made by the Dubai courts, and the orders do not breach public order or morals.
The alternative course of action is that an agreement could be drafted between parties reflecting the same terms as originally rendered by the Australian court. The two can sign the agreement before Dubai courts. The wife has a right to take action against him by seizing his assets and bank accounts if ex-husband does not pay as per the terms of the agreement. She also has a right to obtain a blacklist order against him which could potentially expose him to a prison sentence if he continues to not comply.
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.