family law


March 25, 2020



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It is affirmed under Article 1 of the Manual that all competent courts or authorities dealing with personal matters shall adhere to the provisions of the Manual, and any contradicting order or decision is deemed to be cancelled.

The objective behind issuing this manual is to maintain harmony between the practical challenges faced by the judges in family cases and the principles of Shariah. Another significant feature of this decision is to attain speedy justice as this Manual will clearly describe the procedure for dealing with family cases to avoid any delay due to the unavailability of information.

The objective behind issuing this manual is to maintain harmony between the practical challenges faced by the judges in family cases and the principles of Shariah. Another significant feature of this decision is to attain speedy justice as this Manual will clearly describe the procedure for dealing with family cases to avoid any delay due to the unavailability of information.

  • Failing to reach a reconciliation or to agree mutually, the claimant can open a case before the Family Court for matters like divorce, custody, maintenance or even inheritance.
  • The third step is to submit relevant documents before the competent court to achieve a favourable judgment.
  • The application and acceptance of the travel ban in cases of maintenance or alimony shall be filed either during the litigation procedure or at the time of enforcement of the judgment issued by the court.
  • The court will use a certain mechanism to determine the amount of alimony and other maintenance amounts such as accommodation amount, school fees, and daily expenses.
  • Determining the rights of custody and family unit concerns
  • Orders on the petition for personal status cases and the procedures for filing such a petition and before which court.
  • Execution of judgments issued by the Personal status courts and their procedure.
  • Forms of decisions regarding custody, divorce, alimony, personal servant and other case preparation forms.
  • Tables in the way of a guide to ascertain the value of the cost of living, and the salary of the husband/father and to evaluate the amount of alimony or maintenance in such cases.

In addition to this, the Manual is a unified set of rules acquired to ascertain the amount of alimony, child support and other personal status issues from the initiation of the case until the final judgment and execution of such order. Primarily, the Manual lays down the procedures related to all sorts of personal status cases as mentioned below:

The first and foremost step for any individual initiating any family matter is to file a case before the Family Reconciliation Centre to reconcile or mutually agree to resolve the dispute before the Family Reconciliation Committee.

To conclude the Manual will undoubtedly assist the court in preserving the rights of the individuals filing cases before Personal Status Courts and to achieve a practical judgment with an intention to maintain harmony between the couple and to eliminate the potential disputes between the parties, especially in cases where the conflict is regarding the children as it tends to have a significant impact on the mental and physical health of the children.

Importantly, considering the Manual has some elaborative concerns, it is advised to seek the assistance of Best Lawyers in Abu Dhabi before filing any family matter even before the Family Reconciliation Committee.

Legal Update:

The Abu Dhabi Non-Personal Status Law is a ground-breaking initiative in the Emirates of Abu Dhabi towards giving rights to expatriates in line with the international best practices, taking into account the local customs, culture and language. It remains to be seen whether other Emirates of the UAE will follow the lead of Abu Dhabi and introduce similar laws for non-Muslim expatriates and locals in the near future.

One of the key changes introduced by the Abu Dhabi law is the wife’s right to claim compensation on a lumpsum basis after the divorce has occurred. The amount would be determined based on the assessment of several factors. These factors include:

  1. years of marriage: the amount will increase based on the length of the marriage;
  2. contribution to the failure of marriage: such as neglect, infidelity or abandonment;
  3. economic, financial and social status of each spouse;
  4. loss of opportunity if the wife had to stay in the house, especially if the husband requires the wife to not work;
  5. number of children, ages and their dependency on the parents; and
  6. the difference in income between the spouses.

The court may designate an expert to estimate the financial amount due to the wife after the divorce. The court and the expert will take into account a percentage of the monthly income of the husband, the percentage of the market value of the husband’s property including real estate, shares and stock, and the joint money between the spouses. To file for divorce in Abu Dhabi, either the husband or the wife can do so under Article 11 of Resolution No. 8 of 2022. The filing fee is 5000 AED, which can be paid online. It's enough to just ask for a divorce; there's no need to establish fault.

The court checks the papers to make sure it has jurisdiction and then sets a date at least 30 days later to hand down a divorce judgement if everything looks good. The court sends out SMS text messages to the parties, and the defendant has until 10 days before the hearing to present a defence (related to the jurisdiction only). If neither party files an objection, the divorce will be finalized during the initial hearing. After the 30-day appeal period, the divorce is final and cannot be undone.

According to Article 18 of the Abu Dhabi Resolution No. 8 of 2022, a wife is entitled to a percentage of her husband's monthly income and his property and fortune.

The following claims are possible:

First, the wife is entitled to a lump sum payment equal to: 

  1. at least 25% of the husband's monthly salary multiplied by the number of years the couple has been married
  2. A share in the husband's assets and property
  3. A proportional allocation of the parties' joint assets

During the time of joint custody, the husband is responsible for providing housing support in the form of either renting a home for the wife and children or paying the equivalent in rent (including utilities such as electricity, water, internet, gas, air conditioning, and "other items"). The home's quality should reflect the couple's premarital lifestyle.

Alimony: If the woman is unable to support herself, she may ask the court to order the husband to provide her with financial support.

The husband is responsible for continuing to pay for the children's regular expenses, including those he had been covering before the divorce, such as their schooling, housing, healthcare, and travel. The court has the authority to set the amount of maintenance owed based on the recommendation of a court-appointed expert who will consider the couple's income and the needs of the children.

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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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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