family law


February 12, 2020



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As we progress towards 2020, the UAE government has issued some significant amendments in UAE Family law, especially towards divorce and custody cases under Federal Law Number 8 of 2019 amending Federal Law Number 28 of 2005 concerning the Personal Status Law in UAE (the new Law).

The new Law has come up with serious amendments in the Personal Status Law which shall be noted critically by readers facing such family issues.

  1. It is significant to note that under Article 118(1) of the new law, if the wife filing for divorce under grounds of adultery fails to prove such accusations, the arbitrator (appointed by the court to settle the matter) can right away dismiss the case and there shall be no chance for filing an appeal on such a decision or to appoint another arbitrator.

  2. The arbitrator appointed by the court under Article 118(2) of the new Law is under an obligation to issue an order within 90 days from the date of appointment. However, if he fails to reconcile, they must recommend a settlement proposal to the court, and a copy should be provided to both parties.

  3. Nevertheless, according to Article 120 of the new law, if the parties fail to reconcile even then, the possible scenarios can be considered as follows:
    1. If it is proven to be the husband's fault, the wife can seek divorce and other financial rights;
    2. if it is proven to be the wife's fault, it can be dealt with in the following two ways:
      1. Either she will be given divorce upon paying a certain amount of compensation;
      2. Or unless the husband requests to maintain the marriage, the court, subject to the court's discretion to preserve the marriage, can reject the divorce.
  1. If the arbitrator is unable to reconcile or if it is the joint mistake of both parties, the arbitrator can order either party to pay compensation on a pro-rata basis to the other one who is less guilty or get the divorce without any compensation. This is under Article 120(4) of the new Law.
  1. Following Article 120 (5) of the new law, if the parties cannot reconcile and the reason behind filing for divorce is unknown or cannot be located, there can be two options:
    1. If the husband is the applicant for divorce, the arbitrators can recommend dismissing the case;
    2. Whereas, if the case has been registered by the wife, the arbitrator will choose whether to issue an order for divorce with a lump sum amount or to dismiss the case in the interest of preserving the family.

The new Law further describes circumstances under which the wife can be considered guilty under Article 71 of the new Law mentioned as follows:

  1. If the wife leaves the marital home or refuses to return to the family home or if she refuses to travel with the husband without any valid reasons, however, it cannot be considered as a breach of liability if she has left the house for necessary work or customary reasons;
  2. If she has an arrest warrant in any other case;
  3. If she restricts her husband to enter the marital residence.


The introduction of a new personal status law for the non-Muslims effective February 2023, the Federal Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022 on Civil Personal Status, brings with itself numerous changes in terms of marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance etc. Following the issuance of the Abu Dhabi Personal Status Law for non-Muslim Foreigners in 2021, the federal government came out with a Personal Status Law that would apply to the entire non-Muslim population of the UAE, whether citizens or expatriates. The new law introduces many changes such as equality between men and women, calculation of time-based on the Gregorian calendar, and joint custody of children. To know more information about this law, please feel free to click this link.

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