Law on Family Matters for Expatriates Living in the UAE: Part I

family law

|

April 07, 2022

|

3767 views


| Your comment matters, please click here to rate article!



Introduction

The United Arab Emirates is a host to millions of expatriates and foreigners who have made the UAE their home. As a result, the UAE laws also cater to these expatriates and foreigners. One of the key areas of law relevant to expatriates and foreigners is that of family matters and how they are applied to foreigners in the UAE.

In this ongoing series, we will explore and discuss the current laws governing family matters in the UAE, their application on expatriates and non-citizens, new changes brought about by recent UAE laws and their impact on expatriates, and important considerations that expatriates need to be aware of concerning family law matters.

This is Part I of the ongoing series of articles.

Laws Governing Family Matters

Family law matters and disputes in the UAE are regulated by:

  1. Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 (UAE Personal Status Law), as amended,
  2. Federal Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022 (UAE Civil Personal Status),
  3. Federal Law No. 5 of 1985 on Civil Transactions Law (Civil Transactions Law), as amended,
  4. Abu Dhabi Law No. 14 of 2021 On the Civil Marriage and Its Effects in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Personal Status Law), applicable in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Jurisdiction of the Federal Laws

The UAE courts have jurisdiction on personal status matters where the defendant is a UAE citizen or a foreigner with UAE residence. In case the respondent is not a UAE resident, UAE courts could still have jurisdiction on family matters in certain cases, where:

  1. the claimant is based in the UAE and the respondent’s location is unknown; and
  2. the child is a resident of the UAE; or
  3. the marriage was contracted in the UAE; or
  4. the respondent chooses to define UAE as their domicile.

When a spouse files a case in the UAE, it is common practice for the other spouse to file a case in their home country for suspending or restricting the case filed in the UAE. However, it has been well established by the UAE courts that an existing court case in a foreign court may not restrict or suspend the UAE courts from deciding the same application filed in the UAE. Such a case filed in the home country will therefore not impede the case filed in the UAE.

Types of Dissolution of Marriage

In case parties decide to dissolve their marriage, two options are available to them: divorce by mutual consent; or a contested divorce.

Divorce by Mutual Consent: In a divorce by mutual consent, spouses enter into an amicable divorce settlement to resolve issues related to their marriage, including custody, alimony and maintenance. Both parties sign an application before the Family Guidance Department for the mutual divorce and the proceedings conclude within 1 – 2 months.

Contested Divorce: If there are disagreements between the parties or one of the parties refuses to give its consent for divorce, the Muslim husband has a right to issue divorce to the wife without reason or fault. This right has also been extended to non-Muslims under the UAE Civil Personal Status, irrespective of gender.

As for Muslim wives, if they want, they can apply with the Family Guidance Department to initiate contested divorce proceedings. The Department will attempt to resolve the issues between the parties and on failure to resolve them, may issue a no-objection certificate to the parties, who will then proceed with the divorce proceedings before the family courts.

Usually, the courts will grant the divorce if the courts find that a spouse is facing harm (such as adultery, physical violence, verbal abuse, physical separation for a long period, or non-payment of maintenance) making the courts believe that living together would be impossible for the parties.

As per recent amendments to the UAE Personal Status Law, a wife has to prove her claims which could be through witnesses presented before the courts, to support her claims and arguments. If the wife is unable to prove her claim, the case can be dismissed. In this case, the wife would have the right to file a second application before the court to obtain the divorce. Arbitrators would be appointed in the second application who will decide whether the divorce will be granted or not.

These rules do not apply to non-Muslim wives based in the UAE. As per the UAE Civil Personal Status, the wife will get the divorce on a no-fault basis, meaning that she can get divorced without having to prove any damage on part of the husband. Further, non-Muslims are not required to go through the Family Guidance Department for reconciliation; their cases will be instituted in the courts directly.

Conclusion

While the dissolution of marriage is one aspect of personal law matters, questions regarding claims in a divorce, the custody and relocation of children and inheritance, which are governed by the UAE laws, are important considerations too.

What if the parties want to apply a foreign law in the UAE for their matters? What amounts are payable by the husband to the wife at the time of divorce? We will explore these pertinent questions and more in the next Part of this series.

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.

Read the other parts here: Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Related Topics


Copyright © of this article is retained by the author and/or other copyright owners. We explicitly grant you permission to download a copy, without any alteration, of this article for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or any charge. This article can be utilized on your website or for marketing, however, we grant you permission to host this article on your website and no other rights. This content should not be altered in any way or sold commercially in any format without prior permission of the copyright holder. During reference of this article, full biographic details entailing the name of the author, his designation, the institute and the publishing date of the article shall be provided.

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.


Comments

No comments found.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to know more?
Then talk to us.


Client Testimonials

I owe the success of my case to Dr. Hassan's diligent approach. He remained focused, put me at ease and always went the extra mile. Dr. Hassan tirelessly put my case in the best possible light and I cannot thank him enough. I would highly recommend Dr. Hassan - I am grateful to him from the bottom of my heart.

Raphael Lauria
Manager, FME General Trading

Dr. Hassan Elhais is among the best legal consultants I have ever worked with. He has an amazing ability to reduce complex issues into a simple concept that non-legal people can understand. He consistently develops innovative litigation strategies that help us to achieve our ultimate legal goals.

Zhuo Liu
Client

...the extraordinary effort that has been exerted by the staff, and we specially thank Dr. Hassan Mohsen Alhais. Wishing your continues success & excellence...

H.H. Sheikh Saeed Bin
Mohammed Hashir Al Maktoum

I believe everyone should recognize what a difference Dr. Hassan Elhais work has made to people's lives; and especially to our family's life, because we will remain forever grateful to each and every one of his team.

Luis Pozueco
Client

Dr. Hassan Elhais never fears cases that involve exposure and he always gives me his honest assessment of our chances of success, which is invaluable to me.

Bassam Yamout
Director, JM Metal Trading LCC

He aided us not only in providing legal advice but also in all legal issues that required a long term strategic approach to achieve most favorable and optimum outcomes he provided us with high level of professional service.

Philippe Delbecq
Client

Dr. Hassan Elhais is a responsible, reputable counsel who operates to high levels of service.

British Client

Dr Hassan Elhais is responsive, thorough and creative with his advice, and is a valued advisor and legal consultant.

Asma Mattar
Manager, Italian Style

Regardless of the complexity of the matter I know Dr. Hassan Elhais will consider not only legal strategy but also business practicalities in providing advice and litigation options.

Dr. Massimo Hakim
Chairman, Italian Style

I recommend Dr. Hassan Elhais to anyone who says 'I'm in legal trouble'. I was extremely satisfied with the high standard of his work. He has always been there when I have needed him and I refer all my clients, family and friends to him/his firm.

Manish Gupta
Marketing Manager, Express Digital System

Dr. Hassan Elhais was very professional and he listened to my needs. He was very prompt, efficient and always kept me informed. Dr. Hassan Elhais's service was excellent and I would definitely recommend him to friends and colleagues.

James Horsley
British Client

Select your Language:

     

Main Menu

whatsapp