family law


April 03, 2016



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

Most Women Seeking Divorce Have 3 Priorities:

  1. Divorce Certificate
  2. Custody of the children
  3. Maximum Financial support and settlement

Following the issuance of the new Civil Personal Status Law for the non-Muslims in the country, these three factors have come to be determined separately for the Muslim and non-Muslim populations of the UAE.

The new law differs vividly from the UAE Personal Status Law of 2008, and also gives the parties the option to apply the laws of their home country in case they do not want to be governed by the new law. Meanwhile, the UAE Personal Status Law continues to apply to Muslims living in the UAE.

  1. Divorce

Under the UAE Personal Status Law, once the No Objection Certificate (NOC) is received from the Family Guidance Committee to file the case, the claimant can proceed to court. In court, the woman is usually asked to produce witnesses who can testify to the reasons she wants a divorce. The witnesses can be 2 men or 1 man and 2 women. These witnesses will have to explain to the court that the woman is in an unhappy marriage due to such reasons and based on her suffering, she is seeking a divorce.

There are no exact questions that are asked of the witnesses. They should be aware of the personal and family matters of the claimant and should be able to answer all questions put to them on how they know or believe that family life between the couple is difficult, unhappy and hence not possible. 

For those who do not speak Arabic, a translator is provided by the court to listen to the witness statements. If the woman is unable to bring any witnesses, the divorce process can still go ahead. What the judge will try to ascertain from the witness statements is that the married life of the claimant is not successful or happy.

As for the Civil Personal Status Law, there is no need to go through the Family Guidance Committee for reconciliation, and the parties can approach the courts directly for obtaining the divorce. Moreover, the new law has introduced the concept of ‘no-fault divorce’, which essentially implies that the parties need not provide any reason to divorce their spouses.

  1. Custody

Custody is the most sensitive and emotional subject for the claimant, and in this case particularly the woman. As far as custody is concerned, the UAE Personal Status Law states that it should be with the mother until the male child is 11 years old and the female child is 13 years old. However, this general rule has many exceptions, and it is safe to say that the court looks for the betterment of the child or children involved.

Should it be in the best interest of the child to remain with the mother even after these ages described above, the court might extend the custody of the children in the favor of the mother. Should the court feel even before these ages that the child is better off with the other parent and it’s in the child's best interest, the decision can be handed down against the mother.

However, for this, the burden of proof to show that the mother is unfit is very high and in most cases, the child remains with the mother. When the child reaches the above age, custody does not automatically pass to the father, he has to make a claim and file for the custody of the child. If he does not, he is assumed to accept that the mother should continue the custody of the child.

Whereas, parents under the UAE Civil Personal Status are granted custody on an equal basis irrespective of the child’s age and gender, meaning that they will be responsible for contributing to the upbringing of the child equally. However, if one parent feels that giving custody to the other parent might be dangerous, or involve ineligibility or failure to meet the needs on his/her part, then the parent can move an application to the court to grant him/her sole custody of the child. The court has the discretion to decide in this matter, and will always take into account the best interests of the child.

  1. Maximum Financial support and settlement

When it comes to claiming financial support from the husband, the most important aspect of this is to prove the husband's income. The income of the husband shall determine the amount of the maintenance paid towards the children and the one-off lump sum amount to be paid to the wife. Many people, while claiming for these amounts, focus purely on the amount claimed and not the income, resulting in a weak claim and lower chances of success. The basis for any settlement decided by the court is the income and that should remain the focus for all such proceedings.

The UAE Personal Status Law allows the wife to demand any unpaid maintenance, or to claim the reimbursement of any amounts paid towards her living or the children by her for up to 3 years back-dated. The husband and father are liable to pay towards all expenses of his wife and children regardless of the woman's financial standing and income.

On the other hand, the UAE Civil Personal Status Law lays down that a divorced woman can apply to the court to receive alimony from the ex-husband, and if the same had not been decided previously between the parties, it will be left to the judge to accept the application and evaluate the alimony based on several factors, such as the age of the wife, number of years of marriage, the financial status of the spouses, who contributed towards the divorce etc. The wife is entitled to receive the alimony as long as she does not marry another man, or until she has custody of the kids.

The father is responsible for bearing the costs of the children while they are in the mother’s custody, for up to two years, after which it may be left to the court to decide. Also, the mother can apply for the alimony amount to be revised every year or according to the change in circumstances, and the court shall decide the same.


While you may be informed of your rights post-divorce, it is always better to seek the advice of a family lawyer in such matters, since there may arise complications that initially you were not aware of. In such situations, an experienced family lawyer will be able to guide you and help you in claiming your rights to the maximum extent.

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.

Related Links

Family Law Informative Videos

Family Law - Video
Your Divorce Your Choice!
What all types of divorces exist under the UAE laws...
Family Law - Video
Find out the FAQ's for Family law in UAE
Dr. Hassan Elhais will be answering frequently asked question related to family law...

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.


Dear Sirs, I am married in Turkey but want to divorce in Abu Dhabi. We have one daughter only. I am working but my wife lost her job, looking for a new job. Both of us are Engineers. I appreciate please if you can send me your brief response for below questions. I am Turkish and my wife is from Belarus. Our daughter is 8 years old. Me and my wife agreed to divorce amicably, because we can not cope with each other, it does not work. 1) Is it possible for us to divorce in Abu Dhabi and which court? 2) My wife does not demand any financial lumpsum money. She wants only to pay the schooling fees for our daughter. Possible? 3) Since my wife and myself agreed to divorce amicably without demanding anything from each other, is it possible and how long it will take to get divorced? Many Thanks Edip
Edip Aktan
We are a leading law firm in the region. With a wide area of expertise and ground connections, we're adept at providing bespoke legal advice pertaining to your enquiry.

I completely understand the nature of your enquiry and I am pleased to render our legal assistance to you. I would like to schedule a detailed consultation with you to guide you on your legal position and advise you on the possible legal recourse at your disposal.

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

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

...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

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

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