family law


November 04, 2012



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Marriage contracts usually take a standard format, however, special conditions may be incorporated into them. Such special conditions can provide different rights to either of the parties, but we have seen a prevalence of conditions which focus on giving the wife additional rights.

One example of these special conditions gives the wife a right to petition for a divorce on her behalf. She is however only able to do this if the husband marries someone else before her death. This right is a significant one for a wife.

Another recurring special condition makes the wife entitled to a high amount of “Mahr” or what is generically referred to as dowry. This Mahr should not generally be high, however, the contract often stipulates a high amount and this can be defined in terms of a high-value cash amount or, for example, several gold coins. However, in the UAE, the Mahr amount for UAE nationals should not exceed AED 50,000.

A marriage contract with such a special condition which refers to Mahar enables the wife to claim the Mahar either upfront, on-demand or upon divorce. This right can cause certain issues for a husband since contractually he must pay the Mahar once demanded by the wife. This right is also an obligation which cannot easily be waived, and most certainly cannot be waived by the husband himself. Instead, it can only be waived through express written consent by the wife.

The relevant law, based upon Shariah, is Federal Law No. 28 of 2005, the Personal Status Law (PSL). This law governs the UAE citizens as well as residents, whereas the provisions of a civil marriage contract under Federal Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022 on Civil Personal Status govern the non-Muslim population of the country.

The principles of civil marriage as laid down in the Civil Personal Status Law, 2022, do not provide for any special conditions as such to be incorporated into the marriage contract.

Whereas, the relevant Articles of the Personal Status Law of 2005 are discussed in more detail below:

Article 52 defines the time(s) at which the wife can claim, and also limits her rights in certain circumstances. As described above, the Mahr can be requested upfront, at the time of the contract or after the marriage. There is the option to pay partially too, which the wife should agree to.

Article 53 refers to situations where the husband refuses to pay the amount agreed to in the signed contract yet the marriage contract has already been entered into. In this case, the Mahr amount will be a debt owed to the wife.

As lowering or reducing the Mahar may not be possible, both parties should be well informed about the conditions of their marriage contract.

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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Is there any chance to make and maintain a legal marriage contract between me and my wife ? We both are Indians, both working on low scale salary, having lots of attitude issues in between. In addition we have twin baby girls - 2 months old. Would like to prioritize the safe growth of babies. Any chance for a legal marriage contract ?
Chethan Joshi
Whereas there is no concept of a prenuptial agreement in the UAE, the parties may enter into a post-nuptial agreement after the marriage. If you would like to discuss further the terms and procedures to execute a post nuptial, it is advisable to consult a family lawyer in the UAE. If you would like to schedule a meeting, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Look forward to hearing from you.   Dr. Hassan Elhais
In case of a conflict between a Muslim married couple that resulted in the separation, what measures are to be taken by a husband to reconcile and would the court of law help him to make amends?
Saad Awan
During the proceedings before the court, the judge may exercise his discretion to refer the parties to a court appointed mediator who will be tasked with looking at the possibility of amicable settlement. If you would like to discuss your case further, we request you to meet with us in our office so that we are better placed to share customized advice with you.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  Dr. Hassan Elhais

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