Marriage is a sacred institution, based on a strong foundation of trust, intimacy and love. However, couples opt for divorce, which is a viable option to deal with the consequences of certain unfortunate circumstances.

According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, divorce rates UAE are amongst the highest in the region, the reason for which are marital infidelity, poor communication, job loss or financial strain, social media, religious and cultural differences, other ways of thinking about marriage, generational change and unrealistic expectations.

The procedure for filing of divorce in the UAE is regulated by specific laws. The requirements may be varied according to the religion of people. Since the UAE laws are based on Sharia, the law is applicable to Muslims whereas, non-Muslim expatriate residents can file for divorce in their home country (domicile) or apply for divorce in the UAE.

The UAE has a federal legal system, and family matters are typically handled by the respective courts in each emirate.

Grounds for Divorce under UAE Law

  1. Divorce by Mutual Consent

Both spouses agree to end the marriage amicably in case of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. In such a case, it is advisable for the parties to conclude an agreement regarding the rights and duties of each parties in order to avoid future disputes regarding the maintenance for spouse and children, joint assets etc.

  • Separation: The spouses who have been separated for a certain period, with no prospect of reconciliation. In such a case, either parties can apply for a divorce.
  • Harm or Cruelty: UAE law protects citizen, specially, women, from domestic violence. Divorce can be opted if one spouse inflicts harm or cruelty upon the other. Apart from criminal proceedings, domestic violence is a valid ground for divorce provided that sufficient documents must be produced before the Court during the course of divorce proceedings.
  • Absence: One spouse is absent for a prolonged period, endangering the stability of the marriage. This can be a valid ground for applying for divorce by the other spouse.
  • Non-Fulfillment of Financial Obligations: If one spouse fails to fulfill financial responsibilities towards the other, the other spouse can approach the Court seeking a divorce verdict along with maintenance including the children born in wedlock.

Filing of Divorce under UAE Law

In order to obtain a divorce verdict, either Party shall file an application at the Family Guidance Section at the respective judicial department, in one of the emirates. The couple shall attend a mandatory reconciliation meeting in the presence of a Court appointed Conciliator, where the parties can raise their concerns and find an amicable solution. On conclusion of the meeting, the Parties will conclude an agreement and sign the same in the presence of the Conciliator.

If the Parties fail to reconcile the marital dispute in the presence of the Conciliator and one of the Parties or both Parties are determined about the divorce, the Conciliator will provide a referral letter allowing the Parties to approach the Court to get a final verdict.

The letter must be produced before the Court within three months from the date of its issuance. Upon opening a case with the Court, the Parties can submit all the supporting evidence substantiating their claim/ defense during the proceedings.

Child Custody and Financial Matters

Both parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their children, irrespective of custody arrangements. The father is considered as the legal guardian of the child under the UAE law. The custody rights of the child is vested with the mother depending on the age of the child.

In cases involving children or financial matters, the Court will consider the best interests of the child and ensure a fair distribution of assets and liabilities and any existing agreements between the parties, if any. Factors such as custody, visitation rights, child support, and division of property are carefully evaluated by the Court in accordance with the applicable laws and best interests of the child.

The amount of child support is typically a percentage of the father’s income, with the specific percentage varying depending on the number of children involved.

Enforcement of Child Custody and Maintenance Orders

UAE law provides mechanisms to enforce child custody and maintenance orders. Non-compliance with court orders may result in penalties, including fines, imprisonment, or other legal consequences. The court can also facilitate the collection of child support payments through wage garnishment or freezing of assets.

What We Offer?

Divorce filing, child custody are very sensitive and significant decisions, shall be handled carefully with proper legal guidance from professionals. Seeking professional legal advice and exploring mediation options can contribute to resolving disputes and minimizing the emotional impact on all parties involved. At Legis Vista, we understand the procedures and requirements under UAE law. We are committed to ensure a smooth divorce process in the best interests of our clients. Our services include taking care of the legal proceedings, drafting memorandums and required agreements.