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May 12, 2019

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I want to adopt my fiance's young daughter - is that possible?

Question: My fiance has a 5-year-old daughter with his ex-wife. He is not in touch with her any more and she does not live in the UAE. As far as I am aware, she forfeited her parental rights in their home country. I want to adopt his daughter once we get married. What are the procedures and requirements?

Answer: Adoption is not recognised in Islam and so Sharia, which forms the basis of the UAE legal system, prohibits adoption for Muslim residents. However, it encourages raising, providing care, and sponsoring a child that has been abandoned through licensed charities. And the sponsored child must always carry the surname of their biological father.

Non-Muslim residents are able to adopt while living in the UAE as per the laws of their country of citizenship and that of the child.

As you will be marrying the father of the child, Article 181/1 of the Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 (Personal Status Law) becomes applicable. This article provides that guardianship of the child should fall to the father. In event that the father is not granted guardianship, it then falls to a paternal relative - dictated by the degree of inheritance.

The UAE's Personal Status Law provides that the biological father should be the guardian of the child and the biological mother should retain custody of the child until the child reaches a certain age. Since you are not the biological mother, the custody and guardianship of the child will remain with the biological father.

Question: My husband and I are Muslims. He has three children with me and two with his second wife. Both families live in separate houses and he has previously been very supportive. Recently, he stopped providing us with financial support declaring that his income is not sufficient and we must now support ourselves. I am a working mother, but I simply cannot afford paying all the bills myself plus bearing the educational expenses of our children. What can I do in this situation without divorcing him?

Answer: Article 63/1 of the Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 (Personal Status Law) provides that a spousal maintenance from a husband should include expenses for food, clothing and housing, among other things.

Your husband is obliged to financially support your needs. Moreover, the Personal Status Law goes further and says in Article 67 that the husband shall be indebted to the wife from the time he ceases to financially support her.

Article 78 of the Personal Status Law says that fathers are responsible for financially supporting their daughters until they marry and their sons until they come of age, unless he is a student.

The maintenance for the children covers housing, food, clothes, schooling, and other related activities from time to time namely, medical expenses, domestic help, travel expenses. The father is responsible to provide the aforementioned maintenance support to his children.

Accordingly, the wife can file a maintenance case in the court to claim maintenance and support for her and the children without filing a divorce case.


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