Categories: Law

Marriage Dissolution In The United Arab Emirates

March 7, 2016

The dissolution of a marriage is a legal act that may not coincide with the emotional tearing asunder. Divorce is typically a painful process for all concerned. While it can take adults time to regain psychological equilibrium, there is also a threat to be involved in a court proceeding claiming for compensation for children’s maintenance and support. However different jurisdictions have different solutions to the issue. In this article we will describe the question under Dubai and UAE Law.


The United Arab Emirates is made up of Seven Emirates, of which Dubai is one. The UAE has a unified Federal court system which applies to five of the seven Emirates. Dubai is not one of these, and although it must apply the same Federal laws, it maintains its own court system. The Dubai courts have three facets: civil, criminal and Shari‘a courts. These three facets are further divided into separate courts. The Shari’a courts deal with personal status matters such as marriage, custody of children, maintenance, guardianship, divorce, and inheritance claims. The civil courts deal with civil and commercial issues and contractual matters and the criminal court of course with criminal matters.

In terms of applicable legislation, the legislation governing marital relations within the UAE is primarily governed by the Federal Law No. 5 from 1985 (Civil Code, CC) and Federal Law No. 28 from 2005 (Personal Status Law, PSL). The PSL were developed by the UAE in 2005 and are based on Shari’a laws. Shari’a laws are still referred to for their interpretation.

There are no laws in Dubai for claiming ‘ancillary relief’ on divorce, apart from child maintenance for a mother, and compensation type payments to the wife. Options for a financial claim following divorce would therefore be as follows:

Child Custody and Maintenance (Shari’a court)

Under article 78, 148 and 155 of the PSL, a mother would have custody of children on divorce until the boy is 11 and the girl 13. After this, custody could revert to the father, if he applies for it.

Child maintenance includes all financial costs that the mother would incur to care for a child, for example the provision of accommodation, food, children’s clothing, travel, and maid. Regardless of the wealth of the mother, this would still be payable by the father. The court would consider the father’s income, and the children’s needs, and make an appropriate order; this is usually a third of the father’s income. The Dubai courts have considerable powers for the enforcement of a child maintenance orders, for example attachments of earnings, seizure of goods, investigation of bank accounts etc.

Regardless of whether the mother or father have custody of a child, it is never possible for a father to claim child maintenance from mother. The father is always the legal Guardian of a child under UAE law and part of his role as Guardian is to have financial responsibility for the child.

Wife Rights (types of claim)

Firstly, the compensation called Nafket motaa. This claim by the wife is for year’s worth of expenses to cover her ‘moral damage’. The claim equates to approximately 25% of the husband’s yearly income.

Secondly, is for the wife to claim compensation for the husband not supporting her during the last year of her marriage. Again this could equate to a further 25% of the husband’s yearly income.

Thirdly is the Nafet Eda. This is the financial claim that the wife could make from the husband for him to support her financially for the three month after the divorce, which is the ‘waiting period’. The waiting period is to ensure that a wife is not pregnant following the divorce.

Division of Assets

Either party may claim for a share of any jointly owned assets, or for a share of any assets to which they assert that they made a contribution. This claim is irrespective of marriage or divorce; it is a contractual claim. Unless there was evidence to the contrary, the court would order sale and division of any jointly owned property, or division of any jointly owned bank accounts. Alternatively, if the parties had entered into an agreement outlining the division of assets on divorce, either could apply to the court to enforce that contract under civil law. Either parties’ claim against jointly owned property or property specified in a written agreement would be restricted to property in Dubai.


Nevertheless, in some jurisdictions there are possibilities to ask compensation for children maintenance from husband, the UAE laws are exception. It can be seen that UAE laws are clear about compensation amounts and compensating parties upon the dissolution of the marriage. The farther is financially responsible for his children.

Author: Mr. Hassan Elhais is a professional Lawyer who specialized in Litigation in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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Hassan Elhais

After qualifying as a lawyer in his native Egypt within the fields of Criminal and Public Law, Mr. Mohsen Elhais has been practicing as a Legal Consultant in Dubai since 2005. Working exclusively with Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultancy, Hassan is an effective leader of the company, the spokesperson and driving force. Hassan has a strong ethical stance with regards to the place of the law firm and its work on behalf of the client, from clarity on the legal process through to the fee system. Specialising in the drafting of all statement of claim, memos and consultation with regards to all kind of litigations, Hassan has worked his way through the ranks of Al Rowaad Advocates from joining as Legal Advisor to his current role as a leader of Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultancy. He has drafted and supervised drafting in over 5000 cases in all areas of law for the last nine years.

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