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Divorce and Family Law in the UAE

Instructing a lawyer while living abroad can be a daunting prospect.  As UK qualified family lawyers, we are specialists in international divorce proceedings.  When you instruct us, you can be confident that our team will quickly dispel any uncertainty and anxiety you feel.

We have a wealth of experience in reaching amicable divorce settlements in the local courts.  However, most couples choose to enter into a Settlement Agreement, meaning there is no need for formal litigation.

Expatriates make up over 80% of the population in the United Arab Emirates. Our divorce lawyers understand that considering or responding to divorce proceedings can be a challenging and stressful life event. We offer a sensitive, client-focused service which assists in reducing the anxiety caused by having to go through this tough time on your own.

As part of our divorce service, we will take the time to take your detailed instructions, find out what it is you want to achieve and provide you with the support you need to make an informed decision. Early advice is always recommended as this can put you in a more favourable position.

We are a multi-lingual firm, proficient in Sharia and non-Sharia law.  Our family lawyers are registered with the UK Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Dubai Legal Affairs Department.  We have a robust knowledge of UK/UAE law and how it applies to expatriates in the UAE.  As a niche firm, we are highly respected in the region for our family law expertise.  We run a fully digital practice and can arrange meetings by video conference if preferred.

Our divorce lawyers specialise in areas of divorce, separation, custody, and financial settlements in the UAE/ UK Courts. Our practice areas include:

  • Divorce (UK  Divorce, UAE  Divorce, Dubai Divorce, Abu Dhabi Divorce)
  • Arrangements for children, custody and guardianship issues.
  • Ancillary relief, Maintenance (division of finances, properties and assets)
  • Mediation
  • Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements
  • Islamic Marriage Contracts
  • Separation/Separation Agreements
  • Domestic Abuse/Injunctions
  • Forced Marriages
  • Children’s Issues
  • Advice on travel bans

Our highly dedicated family lawyers provide you with:

  • A detailed review of your circumstances to ascertain the right course of action.
  • Representation in Court and all preliminary meetings.
  • Preparation of Settlement Agreements or memos for Court submission
  • Dealing with your divorce and/or other ancillary matters from start to finish.

What law governs divorce in the UAE?

The UAE's Sharia-based Personal Status Law covers marriage, divorce, and succession.  The Courts will interpret the Personal Status Law using Shariah law.

Article 1 provides that the Personal Status Law applies to expatriates who divorce in the UAE unless they choose to divorce under the laws of their home country.

We assist couples residing in the UAE in Shariah divorce and UK/ home country law divorce.

Can I get divorced under UK law?

You may have your divorce proceedings heard in an English court if:

  • both parties to the marriage are habitually resident in England and Wales; or
  • both parties were last habitually resident in England and Wales, and one of them still lives there: or
  • the Respondent (the party served with divorce papers) is habitually resident in England and Wales; or
  • If you are jointly applying for a divorce then either you or your spouse are habitually resident in England and Wales; or
  • the Applicant (the party who has served divorce papers on their spouse) is habitually resident in England and Wales and has resided there for at least 12 months immediately before the application is filed; or
  • the Applicant is domiciled and habitually resident in England and Wales and has been living in England and Wales for at least six months directly before the application is filed; or
  • Both parties to the marriage are domiciled in England and Wales; or
  • Only either the applicant or the respondent is domiciled in England and Wales.

Our lawyers can swiftly establish if you can get divorced under UK law and quickly file the divorce petition in the UK courts on your behalf.

What are the grounds for divorce in the UAE?

Under UAE law, a divorce can be made either verbally or in writing.  For a verbal divorce to occur, the Court must pass it, either by the fact there were witnesses to the statement or by the swearing of an oath.

Personal Status Law (Articles 110 to 135) lists the grounds for divorce for women and non—Muslim men as follows (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Flaws such as insanity, impotence, and so on
  • Not paying the dowry
  • Not providing maintenance
  • One spouse goes to prison

It is important to note that there are no grounds for a Muslim man regarding divorce; he can simply choose to do so.  Under UAE law, a non-Muslim man must have grounds to divorce.

What is the process for divorce in the UAE?

If a party wishes to divorce their spouse, they must open a file in a UAE court to begin the process.  Under Article 98 of the Personal Status Law, both spouses must meet with a Conciliator.  This meeting provides a chance for the couple to explain their reasons for wanting a divorce.  It also allows the couple to resolve their differences and make a choice to remain married.

If the couple wishes to divorce and can agree on amicable terms drafted and prepared by a family lawyer, a judge will execute it and a divorce certificate will be granted.

If the parties cannot agree on the terms of their divorce between themselves, the Conciliator will write a letter, referring the couple to Court.  Non-Muslims can petition for the law of their home country to be applied before the Court.

Our divorce lawyers will provide the expert, compassionate advice and representation you need during this difficult time.  We will ensure you understand the divorce process fully and have extensive knowledge of all the options available to you.

To book a consultation to discuss your UAE divorce or the preparation of a settlement (amicable) agreement, please contact us:

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