Legal Requirements for Divorce in UAE

According to reports in UAE daily newspapers, divorce rates in the UAE are amongst the highest within the region. In Dubai alone, 1,129 divorces took place in 2016 - more than three per day. The figure is even more alarming for Emiratis, who make up less than one-fifth of the population but account for over one third of all divorces.


Reasons for the high rates of divorce in the country may 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


The Sharia Law in the UAE

The Sharia law governs Islamic marriages. 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 is a non-Muslim.

On the other hand, 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 governs divorce proceedings in the UAE. Lawyers in UAE base their approach and consultation on this article. Article 1 state that relevant parties may ask to apply their own laws to personal status matters. The article also grants that 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.

Law firms in Dubai have to have knowledge of the respective home country laws. 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. In these particular cases consulting an attorney in Dubai is best way forward, especially if child custody is involved.

According to Federal Law no 28 of 2005 for Personal Affairs, the biological mother of the child is the custodian and the father is the guardian. Custody involves day-to-day care of the child, which is usually granted to the mother without interfering with the right of guardianship awarded to the father. At all times, the father is responsible for providing for the child financially. Custody and guardianship are two separate issues that must be addressed individually as parents do not share equal responsibilities for a child in the UAE. 

Motei & Associates are one the most knowledgeable law firms in the UAE when it comes to divorce.