We use cookies and similar technologies that are necessary to operate the website. Additional cookies are used to perform analysis of website usage. By continuing to use our website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please read our Cookies Policy.

Closing this modal default settings will be saved.

Divorce of Expats in UAE- All you need to know

Owner's Profile

Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 14, 2023, 17:40:59


divorce expats

Divorce of Expats in UAE

Expats make up 80% of the UAE’s population and the divorce of the expats are regulated by the laws in UAE, which are discussed in this article.

Jurisdiction for Expats

Expats have the option to choose their jurisdiction to file for their divorce, among these three:

  • Expats can file a divorce in UAE, based on their present residence.
  • They can file for divorce, in the jurisdiction of their home country.
  • Also, they can file for divorce in the UAE and apply to hear the matter following the laws of their home country.

In case, the spouses belong from two different home countries, the matter gets a bit complicated, as both of them have the right to follow the law of their respective native countries. For certain matters relevant to the divorce such as child custody, maintenance, property rights etc.  if there is no law regarding that in the native country of the ex-pat, the law of UAE shall be followed.

How can One Initiate the Procedure of Divorce?

To proceed with judicial formalities for obtaining a divorce, here is the step-by-step method:

Step 1: Any one of the spouses can approach the court and initiate to file for the divorce. Generally, for initiating a divorce it is necessary to show a valid reason, such as - adultery, abuse, desertion, etc.

Step 2: The couple has to meet the conciliatory at the court and discuss if any amicable grounds can be agreed upon to save the marriage from breaking. This step is mandatory in UAE, one can not deny or avoid this procedure. At this stage, all the official documents of the spouses are scrutinized. However, this process does not run for more than three months.

Step 3: If the attempt to settle down the matter in an amicable manner fails, the case shall be forwarded to the Court of First Instance. The case shall be heard in Arabic. The Court shall take the time to analyze all the aspects and reach a conclusion to pass a judgement.
If required, the court shall also provide a translator.

Step 4: Within 28 days of passing the judgement by the Court of First instance, either of the spouses, not happy with the judgement, can file an appeal subject to certain conditions.

Step 5: The appellant jurisdiction is again the Court of First Instance, but this time, there will be three judges hearing your matter.

Step 6: On passing the last judgement, the case shall be moved to the Court of Cessation for review of all the documents to ensure due process. No new evidence is accepted at this stage.

Step 7: Finally, the matter shall be moved to the Enforcement Court, which is a responsibility to ensure the parties to this case comply with the judgements and settlements declared if there is any.

What are the rules regarding mutual consent divorce in UAE?

In UAE, to proceed with a mutual consent divorce, a settlement agreement has to be prepared where all the relevant factors to divorce, such as - maintenance, child custody, property division etc.

However, even for this procedure, the couple has to visit the counsellor for reconciliation, as this is in line with public policy emphasizing the dignity of marriage.

The settlement agreement is filed at the courts, as part of the divorce, thus governing the terms of the divorce.

Who gets child custody in an expat divorce in UAE?

In the UAE, custody and guardianship are two different concepts. As per UAE law, usually, the biological mother gets custody, and the father is the guardian.

However, forgetting the custody of the minor child, the mother has to prove to herself that she is rational, mature and honest, and does not carry any infectious disease. In other words, she must be able to give the child a healthy environment to grow. Moreover, she can not remarry without permission from the Court.

In case the father wants to have custody, the Court may grant it only if he has a female relative at the house to take care of the child.

Later, if the father wishes can take the order from the court for the custody of the son if he feels the mother is raising the son being too soft. Also, the mother can extend her custodial rights until the son finishes his education or the daughter marries.

The court also grants visiting rights to the guardian.

Is Visa Cancelled in the event of Divorce in UAE?

Technically the spousal visa is subject to cancellation in the event of divorce. However, under the new visa rule in UAE for female divorcee, the female divorcee and the kids can stay in UAE for a year and it can be extended to two years, provided that she has to show the divorce certificate, prove that she can earn enough to maintain a housing, livelihood and medical expenses. This can be extended further but there is a charge of AED100.

In case the wife is sponsoring the husband, then after a divorce, the husband has to get a work permit to stay in UAE.