Divorce and compensation for Non-UAE nationals..

Divorce and compensation for Non-UAE nationals..

The divorce process can be difficult and confusing. There are lots of forms to complete and the court procedures can be overwhelming.

 Divorce, like other matters of family law, is either governed by UAE law, Sharia law, or by the laws of the individuals’ home country. If the parties are from different countries, the applicable law is the one from where the marriage was solemnised.

 Anyone experiencing marital problems or family disputes can use this service, and you can file a complaint against your spouse by simply providing the centre with copies of your ID (passport or Resident ID) and your marriage certificate. If counsellors at the centre are unable to help a couple to reach an amicable settlement then the case may get referred to court for legal proceedings to take place. This is when you need to seek legal advice.

 Many remain unaware of how divorce proceedings work in the UAE.For many people, a divorce is the last resort when facing a failed - or even abusive - marriage. But many expats remain unaware of how divorce proceedings work in the UAE, with questions ranging from what courts have jurisdiction and  to what constitutes appropriate grounds for divorce and perhaps most importantly the matter to how child custody is determinedPeople  who were married outside and are currently residents of the UAE have a choice, in which they can choose the jurisdiction of the UAE  or they can go to their home countryShould they choose jurisdiction here, they have two choices. If they are non-Muslim, they can have divorces filed and completed under their own religious personal laws, or they may choose the UAE's civil procedures.

In the case of Muslim couples , Sharia law is applicable. Non-Muslims, however, can apply their own religious laws, provided they provide the court with a notarizedlegalized  version of their country's laws, translated in the UAE by an approved translator and approved by the Ministry of Justice. 

Contrary to popular belief  many  prefer to go through the UAE's court system to process their divorce, as it is often faster and in the long run, economical than returning to their home countries.Otherwise, they might have to travel back home, as they might have to appear (in court).

In some the court could finish the proceedings in mutually agreed divorces in as little as a few weeks.Most countries take far too long compared to the UAE. 

What constitutes grounds for divorce?

 a variety of reasons, ranging from physical abuse and mental torture to desertion and adultery, all constitute valid reasons for divorce.

In some cases - such as adultery - also constitute grounds for criminal proceedings in the UAE. Adultery is grounds for divorce in every faith, every religion's laws. Adultery is a very common reason, so if it happens can ask for divorce based on that  if proven, it is a serious offence under the UAE Penal Code." 

The Burden of Proof

In cases of contested divorce - in which one party doesn't agree to the divorce - grounds must be proven. "If a man wants a divorce from his wife, and she doesn't, he can check the law he's chosen, and under that law see what are the requirements and grounds to seek divorceClaims of physical abuse, for example, must be backed up medical reports or witnesses.  if the wife is physically abusive, he has to prove that she beats him and is violent. His claim is not good enough alone - he has to prove that like with a medical report obtained from a medical professionalIf he doesn't have these, he can provide two male witnesses who know him, and have seen the wife beating him on several occasionsif the wife had made a similar claim, she must also have a medical report and two male witnesses.If he has one male witness and one female witness, that female is considered half a witness. He must then bring two female witnesses .Whether it's two male witnesses, or one male and one female witness, two male witnesses is normal practice. It's up to the digression of the judge whether he wants to consider the female 


  • Both parties are resident in the UAE.



  • Both parties’ passports (originals and copies).

  • Resident ID (originals and copies).

  • Residence visas (originals and copies).

  • Marriage certificate (originals and copies) attested by: UAE embassy in country where marriage was solemnised and certificate was issued, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of same, and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • Documents should be translated into Arabic by a legal translator.



  • File a divorce petition directly to your spouse or through a lawyer; check with your embassy for home country divorce specifics.

  • Register the divorce case at the Moral & Family Guidance Section, Dubai Courts.

  • The couple will be asked to attend a reconciliation meeting with a counsellor at the Family Guidance and Reformation Centre.

  • If this fails (either both or one party insists on divorce), the case will be forwarded to Dubai Courts.


  • Court of First Instance, Dubai Courts.

  • In court the couple will state their reasons for divorce.

  • Both parties have the opportunity to produce witnesses; the court can provide a translator if needed.

  • If the judge finds the reasons to be convincing, the divorce will be granted.


  • Court of First Instance, Dubai Courts.

  • The couple will apply to the court for a decree nisi, stating their reasons for divorce.

  • If your spouse agrees to the divorce petition, you can proceed and apply for a decree absolut – to legally end your marriage.

  • Both parties have the opportunity to produce witnesses; the court can provide a translator if needed.

  • If the judge finds the reasons to be convincing, the divorce will be granted.


What happens to the children?

In some cases, one of the parties in a divorce may threaten to leave the UAE with their children.  The concerned parties have legal steps they can take to prevent that from happening. You have to obtain a travel ban from the court for the child .As a parent, you can seek that order from the court. 

When it comes to custody battles over children UAE judges first leave it to the parents to attempt to come to an agreement. If that fail, that's when the judge steps in. He would grant custody to one parents and visitation rights to another. A judge will never deny visitation rights, unless there are severe reasons, If the child is grown-up, his or her wishes can be taken into account and they can choose which parent gets custody.


When is the wife entitled for alimony in UAE

The husband must maintain his wife and children in accordance with Article 63 of the Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 Concerning Personal Status (the 'Personal Status Law') which states:

(1) Maintenance shall cover food, clothing the house, treatment, a servant for the wife if she is served in her family's house and what is kindly required by conjugal relationship.

(2) Maintenance shall be determined according to the financial ability of the maintainer and the condition of the dependent and the economic situations in terms of place and time. However, maintenance shall not be less than the sufficient limit.

(3) The exploration (inspection) certificate shall be sufficient for deciding the kinds of maintenance, the amount of custody, the house and the conditions on which any decided thing of what is mentioned depends."

Further, a wife is entitled for alimony once her husband stops providing her basic needs in accordance with Article 67 of the Personal Status Law, which states: "The wife's alimony shall start from the date the husband abstains from supporting her. It shall be considered a debt due from him without dependence on the judiciary or mutual consent, but it shall be extinguished by payment or absolution.

Actions for claiming alimony for a previous period exceeding three years from the date of filing the action shall not be heard unless it is imposed by mutual consent."

Your children are also entitled for maintenance by their father in accordance with Article 78(1) of the Personal Status Law, which states: "Maintenance of the youngster having no financial resource shall be borne by their father. Girls shall be maintained till they get married, while boys shall be maintained till they reach an age at when he can earn money, unless he is student pursuing his study with usual success."

Know the law

According to Article 78(1) of the Personal Status Law: "Maintenance of the youngster having no financial resource shall be borne by their father. Girls shall be maintained till they get married, while boys shall be maintained till they reach an age at when he can earn money."




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