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Family Law in the UAE: Overview of Marriage, Divorce & Parental Rights

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Family law in the UAE is a complex area that governs relationships, parental rights, and child-related matters. With a diverse population comprising both local and expatriate residents, understanding the UAE’s family law framework is essential for the protection and preservation of individual rights and interests in matters like marriage and divorce.

Al Kabban & Associates, known for its exemplary legal services, provides this comprehensive guide to give readers an in-depth understanding of these critical aspects of family law in the UAE.

In this article, we will explore the legal systems governing family matters, the requirements and procedures for marriage and divorce, the implications of parental rights, and the intricacies of child custody and support arrangements.

We aim to empower readers by providing accurate and relevant information about family law in the UAE, and highlighting the importance of engaging the trusted and experienced lawyers at Al Kabban & Associates for personalized and professional guidance on these delicate legal matters.

Governing Legal Systems for Family Matters in the UAE

The UAE legal system is characterized by its dualistic nature: it combines both Sharia law, the Islamic legal principles derived from the Quran and Hadith, and the civil law system, influenced by French, Roman, and Egyptian legal traditions.

Depending on the parties involved, family law matters in the UAE can be governed either by Sharia law, which is applicable to Muslim citizens and residents, or the personal laws of the expatriates involved in the family proceedings.

It is essential for individuals residing in the UAE to understand the rules and regulations of the applicable legal system for family matters to protect their rights and interests effectively.

Marriage in the UAE: Legal Requirements and Procedures

  • Legal Age for Marriage: As per UAE law, the minimum legal age for marriage is 18 years for both men and women. However, exceptions may be sought from the court if an individual can prove they are ready for the responsibilities of marriage.
  • Documentation and Consent: For a marriage to be legally valid, both parties must provide valid identification documents (passport or Emirates ID), pre-marital medical certificates, and have the consent of the bride’s legal guardian (usually the father).
  • Islamic Marriages: In cases where both bride and groom are Muslims, the marriage must be performed by a licensed judge (known as a Ma’zoun) at either a Sharia court or an approved wedding venue.
  • Marriages between Muslim and Non-Muslim Individuals: Under UAE law, a Muslim man can marry a non-Muslim woman from a faith that follows a divinely-revealed religion, such as Christianity or Judaism. However, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man unless he converts to Islam.
  • Marriages for Non-Muslim Expatriates: Non-Muslim expatriates can get married under their own country’s laws by registering their marriage at their respective embassy or consulate in the UAE. Alternatively, they can get married under the UAE civil laws at a UAE court, namely in Abu Dhabi where a new court has been established solely for family law matters related to expats.

Divorce in the UAE: Understanding Procedures and Legal Implications

  • Divorce under Sharia Law: For Muslim couples, divorce can be initiated by the husband through verbal declaration (talaq) or by the wife through khula, a process which requires her to return the dowry (mahr) paid by her husband. In either case, the divorce must be registered at the court.
  • Divorce for Non-Muslim Expatriates: Non-Muslim expatriates can choose to have their divorce proceedings conducted under their own country’s laws at their respective embassy or consulate in the UAE. Furthermore, they can opt to have their divorce proceedings under UAE law. It is important to note that divorce laws may differ depending on their country of origin and could lead to different outcomes in terms of property and asset distribution.
  • Division of Assets: The distribution of assets in a divorce depends on the legal system governing the proceedings and the couple’s marital contracts. In the UAE, assets acquired before marriage or gifted to a spouse during marriage are considered personal property and are generally not subject to division.
  • Alimony and Maintenance: Under Sharia law and UAE civil law, the husband is required to pay financial support to his wife during the period of iddat, a waiting period of three months after the divorce during which the wife cannot marry another man. Additionally, the husband may be required to pay further maintenance, depending on the financial circumstances of both parties.

Parental Rights, Child Custody and Support

  • Parental Rights: Under Sharia law, fathers have legal guardianship rights over their children, while mothers have physical custody rights. This implies that the father is responsible for the child’s education, healthcare, and financial well-being, while the mother is responsible for the child’s day-to-day care.
  • Child Custody: In the UAE, the mother generally retains physical custody of the children until they reach the age of 11 for boys and 13 for girls. However, the court may extend the mother’s custody until a boy reaches the age of 17 and a girl reaches the age of 18.
  • Child Support: Under UAE law, the father is financially responsible for his children, regardless of whether he has custody or not. This obligation includes housing, food, education, healthcare expenses, and other necessities. If the father does not meet his financial obligations, the mother can file a claim in court for child support.

Navigating family law matters in the UAE can be a challenging and emotionally exhausting process. Therefore, seeking professional legal advice from the experienced lawyers at Al Kabban & Associates can significantly help you understand your rights and make well-informed decisions throughout these delicate proceedings.

Trusting Al Kabban & Associates for Expert Guidance in Family Law Matters

Navigating the complexities of family law in the UAE can be a daunting task for individuals unfamiliar with the intricacies of the legal system. Al Kabban & Associates, with its team of experienced and dedicated lawyers in Dubai, is committed to guiding you through these challenging legal matters, ensuring your rights and interests are well-protected. From marriage and divorce to child custody and support, our expertise in both Sharia law and civil law enables us to provide personalized and professional legal advice tailored to your unique situation.

Get the best legal representation for your family with Al Kabban & Associates’ family lawyers in Dubai, UAE. Our expert team understands the complexities of family law and will work with you to secure the best possible outcomes for your family’s future. Contact us today for a consultation with our reliable and experienced family lawyers. Trust Al Kabban & Associates to be your partner in navigating the complexities of family law in the UAE. Contact us now for expert family lawyer services in Dubai.


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