family law

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January 19, 2022

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A divorce process can often be a very unsettling time for people; however, it is important to understand that financial rights concerning ‘alimony’ and ‘child support’ are very crucial factors that have far-reaching implications. In legal terms, ‘alimony’ refers to the legal obligation of a person to provide financial support to his or her spouse in the instance of a marital separation as per the applicable family law.

While there does not exist, any ‘one rule’ in terms of alimony calculation, it can be determined only after analyzing the following factors such as:

  • The Religion of the Parties: Whether the parties concerned are Muslims or Non-Muslims.
  • Applicable Law: What would be the applicable law that governs the marital relation and obligations of each party? This is mostly determined based on the place of marriage of the parties and is also subject to additional rules.
  • Mutual Divorce or Contested Divorce: Added to the above-mentioned rules comes additional factors wherein whether the parties can enter into mutually agreeable alimony terms or whether if there is no consensus possible, then the applicable alimony would be subject to rules according to each emirate.
  • Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements: Quiet often parties enter into a postnuptial or prenuptial agreement that might predetermine the terms of asset allocation, including custody and alimony rights in the instance of a future divorce.

The general guidelines that a UAE court of law might take into consideration while determining the applicable maintenance include, amongst others:

  • The total maintenance payable should not exceed 60 per cent of the net income after having taken into account the debts payable and any other liabilities. The court will thus take into account the liabilities due and, subject to its discretionary power, allocate the maintenance amount accordingly.
  • The maintenance due can be reduced in terms of the housing rent allowance provided the female custodian (mother) owns a house or has been allocated accommodation.
  • Similarly, the maintenance due in terms of the housing rent and utilities can be reduced from the total maintenance when the custodian guardian (mother) remarries and now resides with her husband.
  • Subject to the court’s discretion, there is further scope for reduction in maintenance fees in terms of allocating the applicable fees for maid or nanny services, after taking is not account whether the custodial guardian (mother) is working or not.

It is also to be taken into account that the parties are allowed to apply for revision in terms of the maintenance amounts allocated on a biannual basis. This is allowed based on the fact that possible change in circumstances can occur, whether it concerns the loss of a job or reduction in salary or other factors which are part of life and hence have to be considered. If found justifiable, a reduction claim can be allowed by the courts. As discussed above, the concept of alimony might differ under the personal laws of ex-pat residents, and therefore, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of the possible conflict of laws and choice of law.

Disclaimer:

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.

This New Federal Law has introduced changes in personal status matters for non-Muslims in matters related to family guidance mediation, rights between the parties concerning testimony, inheritance, divorce, calculation of time-based on the Gregorian calendar, and joint custody of children. The New Federal Law has introduced civil marriage at a federal level and provided equal rights to parties in requesting the divorce. The New Federal Law covers matters related to alimony, custody, inheritance, and parentage and shall be applied between non-Muslim expatriate residents in case none of them wanted to apply his/her home country's law in the UAE.

There is no mandatory mediation in the family matter before the commencement of the court case. The Divorce cases shall be excluded from being considered by family guidance committees and shall be directly referred to the Court to issue a judgment in this regard from the first session. If the New Federal Law was applied, the divorce could be given to any of the parties based on a no-fault divorce in the first court hearing where none of the parties may be required to provide any reason for the divorce. The factors for quantification of the alimony amount may be based on the divorce, and the court has the right to evaluate the alimony amount, which has to be paid to a divorced woman.

The law has specified several different factors to evaluate this amount, for example, length of the marriage, the wife’s age, transfer of financial assets, economic status of each spouse, the extent of the husband’s contribution to the divorce, compensation by either spouse for any material or moral damage resulting from divorce, financial damage resulting from unilateral divorce. the wife’s alimony shall be forfeited in case she remarries, or the custody is dropped for any reason. Moreover, the wife may submit a request to increase the alimony after one year should the circumstances change. To know more information about this law, please feel free to click this link.

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Disclaimer: There have been recent changes/amendments in the provisions of the UAE Family Law covered in the content on this website. The views and opinions in the articles are contemporaneous with the time of its publication only and do not necessarily address any matters after the recent amendments of the law or supreme court decisions issued after the date of this publication. The content of this website contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments. Such content is designed only to give general information on the developments actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of recent developments in the law, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice or render a legal opinion. Since the law is constantly changing and since the law will vary based on different facts and circumstances, statements on this website regarding the status of a given law or legal issue may not be current or applicable to your particular situation. You should not take any action based on the information in this website. Each legal issue depends on its individual facts and different matters have different laws and regulations. We may make changes to the features, functionality or content of the website at any time.


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