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February 16, 2022|
Many groundbreaking legal changes have been introduced in the UAE in recent months. The new changes have been nothing short of revolutionary in terms of modernizing the existing rules and building a more flexible and expat-friendly environment. The decision to amend many of the strict Islamic laws and to modernize several elements of the family and personal laws aims to usher in multiculturalism and progressivism.
For the Emirate of Abu Dhabi:
A new decree-law on ‘Personal status for non-Muslims in the emirate of Abu Dhabi’ has been enacted to regulate personal status matters for non-Muslims (hereinafter “New Decree”). The new decree is aimed to provide innovative solutions, allowing foreigners residing in the emirate of Abu Dhabi to solve family disputes in a flexible manner. It comprises twenty articles covering several main topics, including civil marriage, divorce, joint custody of children and inheritance. The new decree also further clarifies the procedures and guidelines in calculating the ‘financial rights of a wife' in a divorce case, which are to be calculated based on several criteria such as the number of years of the marriage, age of the wife, economic status of both the parties etc.
The Newly Introduced Facets Include:
Other Changes on a Federal Level Include:
The new changes, as we cited above, have been brought in line with international best practices to affect a unique law that encompasses even the smallest aspects of the family life of a non-Muslim. These changes are in further recognition of the two hundred different ex-pat nationalities who are residents of the UAE and endeavour to build a highly attractive living environment for all ex-pats in the UAE.
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. To know more information about this law, please feel free to click this link.
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