The divorce was swiftly approved in under a month, while it took four months to finalize the financial settlement (alimony). Notably, the Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court has awarded one of the largest divorce settlements in the region, exceeding Dh7 million. This significant sum amounts to 35% of the ex-husband’s wealth, encompassing both assets and income, which was granted to the woman by the secular expat court.
The couple involved in this case were long-married residents of Abu Dhabi. What sets this divorce apart is its adherence to Civil Marriage Law 14 of 2021, which was released in Abu Dhabi in November 2021. This case represents a pioneering instance in the region where the court engaged an expert to ascertain the net worth and financial assets of each party involved. This development aligns with contemporary and progressive family law principles, marking a substantial step forward for women’s rights and gender equality.
The divorce proceedings were exceptionally swift, taking less than a month for approval, with the financial settlement (alimony) finalized in four months. Notably, all expatriates, irrespective of their residence or religion, have access to the civil family court, which was formerly known as the non-Muslim court.
Position Under New Personal Status Law in Abu Dhabi
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently introduced the “Federal Personal Status Laws,” which have significant implications for non-Muslim residents, particularly expatriates, in the country. These laws, put into effect by Abu Dhabi, cover various aspects of foreign family matters, including civil marriages, divorces, child custody arrangements, and financial entitlements. As of December 2021, these regulations apply to all individuals, irrespective of their religious beliefs or origins, if they are residents or visitors in the UAE and come from countries that employ circular law systems.
Under the new civil marriage regulations, the initial divorce proceedings can now lead to a swift and straightforward divorce process. Couples can opt for divorce without the need to establish any bias or provide justifications for their decision. The duration of the marriage also plays a role in determining alimony payments, ensuring that fairness prevails.
In addition to regular monthly support payments, the legislation empowers the court to mandate a one-time lump-sum payment from one spouse to the other.
As of February 1, 2023, data from the Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court reveals that approximately 6,000 couples, representing 127 different nationalities, have embraced the new civil marriage statute since its inception. Among these couples, a significant number are Europeans, Americans, Russians, Lebanese, Filipinos (with 2,300 couples), and Indians, Lebanese, Nigerians, and Europeans (with over 830 couples).
These new regulations were introduced with the aim of “regulating marriage, specifying the conditions and procedures for contracting and documenting marriages before the competent courts,” thereby enabling non-Muslims to marry or seek divorce under non-Sharia legal provisions.
What was the situation before the implementation of the New Civil Marriage Law?
Before the introduction of the New Civil Marriage Law, expatriates or non-Muslim UAE citizens who wished to divorce in a local UAE court were obligated to adhere to Sharia law, even if it conflicted with the laws of their home country. As a result, many individuals opted to marry or divorce outside of the United Arab Emirates.
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Furthermore, living together in an unmarried relationship was considered illegal under the previous legal framework. However, it wasn’t until 2020 that the UAE decriminalized cohabitation and unwed pregnancies, thereby relaxing restrictions on various personal matters.
Introduction of No-fault Divorce
No-fault divorce refers to a situation in which one spouse can obtain a divorce without having to prove that the other partner engaged in wrongdoing, such as adultery or abuse. In the context of a no-fault divorce application, the Civil Family Court will grant a divorce without requiring evidence of the reasons for the marriage’s breakdown.
Who is eligible to file for a no-fault divorce application?
1. Residents of Abu Dhabi.
2. Individuals who have undergone a civil marriage ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court.
3. The involved parties must be citizens of a country not governed by Sharia law. For nationals of Arab League countries, an official certificate verifying their faith may be requested.
What are the required supporting documents for a no-fault divorce application?
To complete the application for a no-fault divorce, the following documents must be submitted:
1. A copy of the marriage license in both English and Arabic.
2. A duplicate of the second form of identification (passport and Emirates ID).
How can our Lawyers and Legal Consultants assist you?
Our team of family law attorneys, well-versed in Dubai divorce laws, possesses extensive expertise in handling divorce and separation cases. We offer reliable and cost-effective guidance to protect the interests of each client involved in a divorce case. Moreover, our knowledgeable attorneys efficiently manage divorce proceedings, alimony issues, child custody matters, and other related family concerns in compliance with UAE personal status laws through the family courts in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.
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Our family law division comprises a diverse team of attorneys proficient in handling a wide range of legal matters, including private family concerns. Our Dubai-based family lawyers have a strong track record of advocating for our clients across various aspects of family law.