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Expatriate Divorce in UAE: Key Facts

Divorce is often viewed as a final option for many married couples when their relationship reaches an irreparable point. Some individuals choose divorce because they believe they made an initial mistake in getting married.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), divorce is not actively promoted due to the culture’s strong emphasis on family values. Nevertheless, the UAE government accommodates expatriates who wish to dissolve their marriages while residing in the country.

Distinguishing Between Muslim and Non-Muslim Divorce in UAE

The process of divorce differs for Muslims and non-Muslims in the UAE. Muslim divorce is governed by Sharia law, whereas non-Muslims have the option to follow their own religious laws, provided they possess a notarized and legalized document of the relevant law, translated by a certified legal translator.

How Does the Expat Divorce Process Commence?

Expatriates initiating a divorce process can opt to file for divorce either in their home country or within the UAE. As previously mentioned, if both spouses hold the same citizenship, the laws of their shared home country can be applied. However, in cases where the spouses are citizens of different countries, the UAE adheres to the laws of the husband’s national origin, as dictated by its legal framework. Should this particular law fail to cover specific aspects, the UAE’s legal provisions will come into play.

Contrary to common belief that pursuing a divorce through the UAE legal system may be time-consuming, many ex-pats prefer this route due to its swiftness and cost-effectiveness compared to the alternative of seeking divorce proceedings in their respective home countries.

What are the grounds for divorce in the UAE?

Divorce in the UAE can be based on various grounds. The following are some of the reasons that can lead to divorce:

1. Adultery
2. Physical abuse
3. Mental torture
4. Desertion

Any of these reasons can be invoked by an individual seeking a divorce from their spouse in the UAE. If you find yourself in such a situation, don’t hesitate to contact a Divorce Lawyer Dubai Expat for assistance.

Contesting a Divorce

However, there are instances when one party does not wish to proceed with the divorce initiated by their spouse. In such cases, the party contesting the divorce must provide evidence supporting the grounds for divorce.

You may be interested in Key Insights into Navigating Divorce for Expatriates in the UAE

It is essential to understand the specific requirements and grounds for divorce as per the chosen jurisdiction’s laws. For instance, if physical abuse is cited as a reason for divorce, medical reports or eyewitness accounts may be required. In the absence of a medical report, two male witnesses who have observed the abuse may need to testify.

You may also read Getting Married in Dubai: What Legal Requirements Should Expatriates Fulfill?

How Long Does the Divorce Process Typically Take?

Generally, the divorce process in the UAE can take a minimum of three months to reach its conclusion. If both parties can come to an amicable agreement regarding financial matters and child custody, the process may be finalized within three months. However, if disputes persist, it may take a year or longer to complete the divorce proceedings. There are numerous family lawyers and child custody lawyers in Dubai, available from top law firms, who can provide the necessary legal support during this challenging time.

Is it Illegal to Relocate with Children?

In the event a parent opts to depart their residence with their children without obtaining prior consent from their spouse, it constitutes child abduction. The spouse who remains at the residence can petition the court to compel the return of the child to the home. Furthermore, if there is apprehension that the other parent may abscond with the children, a spouse may seek a travel ban against them.

It is important to acknowledge that requesting the lifting of a travel ban is more challenging for a wife compared to the reverse scenario. Additionally, a parent can request a travel ban on behalf of the child.

In cases about child custody, judges typically encourage parents to reach their own mutually agreeable arrangements. However, should this negotiation fail, the judge will make the final determination. Generally, custody is awarded to one parent with visitation rights granted to the other. Visitation rights may be denied to a parent under specific circumstances deemed grave by the judge. Conversely, when a child reaches maturity, their preferences regarding which parent to reside with may be taken into consideration.

Residential Arrangements

In the United Arab Emirates, it is customary for the mother to be granted custodianship of the child, while the father assumes the role of guardian following a divorce. The custodial parent retains the authority to care for the child. However, the transfer of custody may occur when a boy reaches the age of eleven and a girl reaches the age of thirteen, contingent upon a court decision.

What is the typical expense?

For a couple considering divorce, the anticipated cost typically falls within the range of AED 12,000 to 20,000 in Dubai. Please note that this estimate excludes any financial settlements and disputes related to child custody.

If you’re contemplating divorce in Dubai, whether you’re an expat or not, the divorce lawyers at Gulf Lawyers and Legal Consultants are here to provide guidance. Our Dubai-based attorneys can assist you throughout the legal process.

Feel free to get in touch with us to schedule a complimentary consultation.

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