family law


April 28, 2016



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Will My Husband Be Forced to Sponsor His Ex-Wife and Children?

Question: My husband is in the process of divorcing his other wife. However, he is unsure whether after the divorce she can stay in the UAE with his children under his visa. He cancelled her visa but she has not left the country. The children are young and both parties are Egyptians and Muslim.

Can an ex-wife force her ex-husband to sponsor her? Also, can he refuse to sponsor his children, as long as he can prove that he can provide for them in Egypt, or does he have to sponsor them here? If he must sponsor his ex-wife, can a court force my husband to pay for accommodation for her and the children in a certain city, or just in the emirate where the court ruling takes place? Lastly, do you think there is a chance that my husband could win custody of the children? Under which conditions would this be possible?

Answer: UAE law states that a person cannot provide visa sponsorship for a previous spouse - she would need to find new sponsorship to live here legally. This can be done, for example, by finding employment or by starting a business. So your husband cannot be forced by his previous wife to sponsor her after divorce proceedings are final. In any case, providing the Residency visa for the children is the responsibility of the father. UAE courts will enforce that the husband provides food, clothing, accommodation and education for his children. Although no specific amount is determined by law, common practice is that such maintenance amounts usually range between 25 and 30 per cent of the husband's income. However, keep in mind that this amount could be more or less, and will vary from case to case. With regard to the custody of the children, it is difficult to evaluate at this stage. In general, mothers get custody rights until a boy turns 11 and a girl turns 13. Nevertheless, there are instances when the father gets custody before they reach these ages. The court has complete discretionary powers to make such decisions after taking into consideration the best interests of the children involved.

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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