Divorce Lawyer in Dubai

Divorce is an increasing social concern in the UAE. This page provides information about the divorce laws for Muslims and non-Muslims in the UAE and steps to follow for applying for divorce.

Increase in divorce cases

According to reports in local newspapers, divorce rates in the UAE are amongst the highest in the region. Reasons for the high rates of divorce in the country include: 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.

Steps for filing a divorce in the UAE

The first step is to register the case by either party at the Family Guidance Section at the respective judicial department, in one of the emirates. A court appointed conciliator will try to reconcile the divorcing parties.

The conciliatory procedure is a mandatory process of the divorce proceedings in the UAE. Parties are allowed to raise their concerns pertaining to the marriage in the absence of their respective legal representatives.

Amicable divorces can be concluded at this stage. Parties will need to draft a settlement based on the parties’ mutual understanding and sign it before the conciliator.

If one of the parties or both of them are determined about the divorce, then the conciliator will provide the claimant with a referral letter, permitting them to proceed before the court to conclude their divorce case.

The letter can be submitted to court at any time within three months from the date of issue. Once in court, the particulars of the divorce case fall at the court’s discretion and each party has to provide evidence to support own claims against one another as well as in their own defence.

Divorce laws for Muslim couples

Islamic marriages are governed by the Sharia law. If both husband and wife are Muslims and residents in the UAE, Sharia/UAE law will most likely be applied to their divorce. The same is likely if the husband is a Muslim and the woman a non-Muslim.

Divorce laws for non-Muslim couples

Non-Muslim expatriate residents can file for divorce in their home country (domicile) or apply for divorce in the UAE.

If the parties wish to have the law of their home country applied, they may petition for this before the court. Article 1 of the Federal Law No 28 of 2005 for Personal Affairs states: The provisions of this Law shall apply on citizens of the United Arab Emirates State unless non-Muslims among them have special provisions applicable to their community or confession. They shall equally apply to non-citizens unless one of them asks for the application of his law.

This means that relevant parties may ask to apply their own laws to personal status matters.

It also provides: The law of the state of which the husband is a national at the time the marriage is contracted shall apply to the effects on personal status and the effects with regards to property resulting from contracting of the marriage.

Whenever the law of the parties’ home country fails to cover an aspect of the divorce procedure, the courts hold discretion to apply the UAE law.