family law


August 21, 2023



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Personal affairs in the UAE were controlled by the UAE Personal Status Law No. 28 of 2005 and the UAE Civil Transactions Law until February 2023. However, the UAE government has recently proposed a new law that is distinct from the previous one and is based on internationally recognized practices and customs in the area of family law.

Following the precedent set by Abu Dhabi Law No. 14 of 2021 on Civil Marriage and its Effects in Abu Dhabi, the new Federal Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022 went into effect on February 1, 2023. The UAE Personal Status Law of 2005 will continue to apply to Muslims in the UAE, but these new regulations will control all aspects of family life for non-Muslims, including marriage and divorce.

Changes to non-Muslims' personal status in areas such as family guidance mediation, rights between the parties regarding testimony, inheritance, divorce, and custody, have been instituted by a new federal law. Civil marriage is now legal on a federal level, and both parties have equal rights to file for divorce under the new law. The new federal law addresses issues of child support, parental rights, inheritance, and alimony.

Financial Rights of a Wife

In the United Arab Emirates, the wife has the right to demand maintenance support from the husband during the marriage, as stated in Article 63/1 of the UAE Personal Status Law No. 28 of 2005. The same regulation specifies that the amount of support paid must not be less than the cost of basic subsistence under the economic conditions of the husband's economic situation and place.

Without initiating divorce proceedings, the woman may seek maintenance in court to cover her and the children's living expenses. Unless the couple owns everything together, the husband has no right to receive support from his wife. There is no legal concept for prenuptial agreements in the United Arab Emirates, but newlyweds can protect their wife's financial interests by signing a postnuptial agreement immediately after tying the knot.

Marriage contracts in civil marriages performed in accordance with Federal Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022 and Abu Dhabi Law No. 14 of 2021 on Civil Marriage and its Effects in Abu Dhabi may include additional terms relating to financial maintenance, community property, and other rights as the parties see fit.

In the absence of these factors, the court may appoint an expert to determine the monetary award to the wife upon divorce. In determining alimony, the court and the expert will consider the husband's monthly income, the market value of his assets (including real estate, stocks, and shares), and the amount of money the couple has pooled together. The judge can order the husband to make a lump sum payment or set up payment plans. While it is true that Abu Dhabi Law 14 of 2021, governing civil marriage and its effects in Abu Dhabi, served as a model for the federal government's Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has already released the Abu Dhabi Resolution No. 8 of 2022, which contains the necessary regulations for carrying out Abu Dhabi Law No. 14 of 2021.

According to Abu Dhabi Resolution No. 8 of 2022, a former wife is entitled to a certain percentage of her former husband's monthly income, and a share of his property and wealth, equal distribution of the couple's joint funds, housing support for herself and her children, spousal support, and child support.

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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