family law


October 27, 2013



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What powers does the court have to allocate financial resources and property on the breakdown of marriage?

The court will not automatically consider the financial position of a separated couple unless an application is made to the court to claim such rights.

Capital: There are no family laws in the UAE that deal with the allocation of property on the breakdown of a marriage. On divorce, each party retains the assets and property held in their respective names. The division of jointly owned property is dealt with under general civil laws.

One party may apply to the court for an order for the sale of a jointly owned property, or for the other party to buy out their share. The starting point is the assumption that parties hold jointly owned property in equal shares.

If one party can show the court that they made a greater financial contribution towards the property in terms of purchase price or mortgage payments, they may retain a larger share of capital. It is important to note that the UAE courts only have jurisdiction over property owned within the UAE, not abroad. Other jointly owned bank accounts or other assets will be dealt with in the same way.


Explain the operation of maintenance for spouses on an ongoing basis after the breakdown of a marriage.

Maintenance has come to be incorporated in two different laws starting from February 2023. Accordingly, the Personal Status Law of 2005 now governs the Muslims in the UAE, whereas the Civil Personal Status of 2022 applies to the non-Muslim population of the country unless they choose to apply any other law of the UAE or the law of their own country.

The wife’s claims for herself, according to the Personal Status Law of 2005, are compensation-type claims, as follows:

  1. Firstly, the compensation called Nafket Motaa is a claim by the wife for up to one year's worth of expenses to cover her ‘moral damage’ resulting from a divorce given by the husband without her consent.
  2. The second is for the wife to claim reimbursement of backdated expenses for up to the last 36 months for not supporting financially.
  3. Thirdly is the financial claim that the wife could make from the husband for him to support her financially for the three months after the divorce, which is the ‘waiting period’. The waiting period is to ensure that a wife is not pregnant following the divorce.

As for the Civil Personal Status of 2022, the divorced woman can move an application to the court to receive alimony from her ex-husband. This amount will be forfeited if she marries another man or if she no longer remains the custodian of the children, and this amount is decided based on:

  1. number of years of marriage
  2. age of the wife
  3. the financial status of each spouse
  4. the extent to which the husband contributed towards the divorce
  5. compensation by either spouse due to moral damage
  6. financial damage resulting from unilateral divorce
  7. whether the wife was diligent in taking care of the children

Child Maintenance

On what basis is child maintenance calculated within the jurisdiction?

The court will consider the standard of living that the children experienced during the marriage to determine the appropriate level of child maintenance. Child maintenance will cover all expenses required by the wife to care for the child e.g., rent of housing, schooling, medical expenses etc.

The wife claiming child maintenance would be required to provide documentary evidence of the expenses that her husband met for the children during the marriage. The wife can also claim a monthly figure as a ‘carer’s allowance’, and this figure depends on the level of the husband’s income.

As per the Civil Personal Status of 2022, the father is responsible for providing financially for the child while they are in the mother’s custody, for a period of up to 2 years, after which it shall be left to the court to decide since the parents are required to raise the child on an equal basis as per the provisions of this law.

Legal Update:
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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