December 1, 2020by Admin0

The ‘Sharia Law’ or the UAE Personal Status Law is the legislation governing family matters in UAE. The Personal Status Court deals with family matters such as marriage, divorce, alimony, guardianship, custody and visitation, maintenance etc. Article 1 of the Law provides that the Law applies to all UAE residents – Emiratis and Expats, Muslims and non-Muslims. It also gives expat residents the right to choose between, either the Personal Laws of their home country or the Laws in UAE to resolve their family disputes.

Expats usually have a choice of jurisdiction as to the divorce proceedings either through their domicile, residence or nationality. A Resident Foreign national has the following three options to choose from: 

  • File a case for divorce in the UAE Courts under UAE Laws;
  • File a case for divorce in their home country, if Laws of such country permits its non-resident nationals to file for divorce;
  • File a case for divorce in the UAE choosing the Laws of their home country.

If the Parties file for divorce in the UAE, the wife and children are entitled for alimony. The husband must maintain his wife and children under Article 63 of the Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 concerning Personal Status (the ‘Personal Status Law’). According to Article 67, the wife’s alimony shall start from the date the husband stops supporting her. It shall be treated as a debt due from the husband to the wife, and shall be extinguished either by payment or by waiver.


Alimony is a legal obligation on a person to provide financial support to his wife before or after marital separation or divorce. Alimony shall cover food, clothing, house and medical care, service charges if she has served in her family’s house, and all claims arising out of a conjugal relationship. Alimony shall be determined according to the financial ability of the husband, the conditions of the dependents, and the economic conditions at the relevant place and time. Alimony shall not be less than the sufficient limit. The exploration (inspection) certificate is sufficient for deciding the maintenance, the proportion of custody, the house, and other terms and conditions.

When it comes to children born out of the wedlock in UAE, the parents do not share equal parental responsibility. The mother is the ‘Custodian’ and father the ‘Guardian’. The doctrine “Best Interests of the Child” is given paramount importance. As custodian the mother is responsible for the day-to-day affairs and care of the children and the father is 100% responsible for the child’s education, medical treatment and accommodation.

The children born out of wedlock are entitled for maintenance by their father under Article 78(1) of the Personal Status Law. Maintenance of the youngster having no financial support/resource shall be borne by their father. Girl children shall be maintained till they get married, while boy children shall be maintained till they reach an age at when they can earn money, unless they are students pursuing their study with usual success.  

In conclusion, expats can opt between the laws of UAE or the domestic laws of their country for divorce. By opting for UAE jurisdiction, they are governed by the Personal Status Law and the maintenance and alimony will be decided accordingly. In the latter option, the domestic laws for maintenance will vary according to one’s nationality. However it is common among the expats to prefer and opt the UAE’s Court system to process their divorce, as it is often faster and in the long run, economical than conducting a divorce case in their home country. Irrespective of the choice of Law, UAE Courts are very quick in deciding the application for alimony, (3 to 5 months) and most of the time alimony is granted to the wife for her maintenance and that of children.

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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the respective authors. ATB Legal does not endorse these opinions. While we make every effort to ensure the factual accuracy of the information provided in our blogs, inaccuracies may occur due to changes in the legislative landscape or human errors. It is important to note that ATB Legal does not assume any responsibility for actions taken based on the information presented in these blogs. We strongly recommend verifying information from official sources and consulting with professional advisors to ensure its accuracy and relevance to your specific circumstances.

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ATB Legal is a full-service legal consultancy in the UAE providing services in dispute resolution (DIFC Courts, ADGM Courts, mainland litigation management and Arbitrations), corporate and commercial matters, IP, business set up and UAE taxation. We also have a personal law department providing advice on marriage, divorce and wills & estate planning for expats.

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