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Expatriate Divorce in UAE: Key Insights

  1. Overview of Divorce Considerations for Expatriates Divorce, often viewed as a last option by many couples, occurs when they feel their marriage was a mistake or irreconcilable differences arise. In the UAE, while the cultural emphasis is on family unity, provisions exist for expatriates wishing to dissolve their marriages within the country.
  2. Differences in Divorce Procedures: Muslim vs Non-Muslim The process of divorce in the UAE varies for Muslims and non-Muslims. Muslims undergo divorce proceedings governed by Sharia law. Non-Muslims, however, can choose to follow their own religious laws, provided they present legally translated and notarized documents of these laws.
  3. Initiating the Divorce Process for Expatriates For expatriates, divorce proceedings can be initiated either in their home country or in the UAE. If both parties are nationals of the same country, their national laws may apply. In cases where the couple hails from different countries, the husband’s national law typically prevails, as per UAE regulations. Should these laws be inadequate in certain aspects, UAE laws are then applied.
  4. Advantages of Pursuing Divorce in the UAE Contrary to the belief that court divorces in the UAE are lengthy, many expatriates opt for this route as it is often faster and less costly than returning to their home countries for the proceedings.

Grounds for Initiating Divorce in the UAE

In the UAE, several key reasons can form the basis for filing a divorce. These include:

  • Adultery: Engaging in extramarital affairs can be a significant reason for divorce.
  • Physical abuse: any form of physical harm inflicted by one partner on the other.
  • Mental Torture: psychological abuse or ongoing mental distress caused by one partner to the other.
  • Desertion: abandonment of one partner by the other without any justified reason.

These grounds provide sufficient cause for an individual to seek divorce in the UAE.

Challenges and Disputes in Divorce Proceedings

In situations where one partner disputes the divorce filed by the other, concrete evidence is required to support the grounds for divorce. Parties involved in the divorce must understand the specific requirements and legal grounds under the law they are subject to.

For instance, if physical abuse is cited as a reason for divorce, this claim must be substantiated with medical reports or witness testimonies. In the absence of medical evidence, the testimony of two male witnesses who have witnessed the abuse is required.

Duration of the Divorce Process

The timeline for a divorce in the UAE generally varies. A minimum of three months is usually needed for a divorce to be finalized, provided that both parties reach a mutual agreement on financial and child custody matters. However, if there are disputes and no agreement is reached, the divorce process may extend to a year or longer. In such cases, the assistance of skilled family or child custody lawyers from reputable law firms in Dubai can be invaluable.

Legal Implications of Leaving with Children in the UAE

In the UAE, if a parent takes their children and leaves the household without the other spouse’s consent, it is considered child abduction. The spouse who remains can appeal to the court for an order demanding the return of the child. Additionally, a spouse may request a travel ban on their partner if there’s suspicion of them attempting to leave the country with the children.

You may be interested in Key Facts About Expatriate Divorce in the United Arab Emirates (UAE

Notably, wives often face more challenges in getting a travel ban lifted compared to husbands. Parents also have the option to request a travel ban for their child.

Decision-Making in Child Custody Cases

When it comes to child custody, judges in the UAE typically encourage parents to reach an agreement independently. If they fail to agree, the judge will make a decision. Generally, custody is granted to one parent, with the other receiving visitation rights. However, visitation can be denied if there are serious concerns that justify such a decision. For older children, their preferences regarding which parent they wish to live with are often taken into consideration.

You may also read Key Facts About Expatriate Divorce in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Custodial and Living Arrangements Post-Divorce

In the UAE, it is common for mothers to be awarded custody of children post-divorce, while fathers are designated as guardians. The mother, as the custodian, has the right to care for the child. When a boy reaches the age of eleven and a girl reaches the age of thirteen, there may be a possibility of custody transfer, subject to court approval.

Financial Aspects of Divorce in the UAE

Couples considering divorce in the UAE should anticipate legal expenses ranging from AED 12,000 to 20,000. This estimate does not include additional costs related to financial settlements or disputes over child custody.

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