UAE Family Law: What Women Need When They Decide to get a Divorce

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What Women Need When They Decide
to get a Divorce
Legal Articles: UAE Family Law
By Mr. Hassan Elhais - Legal Consultant in Dubai
Most women seeking divorce have 3 priorities:
1. Divorce Certificate
2. Custody of the children
3. Maximum Financial support and settlement
1. Divorce:
After the No Objection Certificate (NOC) is received from the Family Guidance Committee in
order to file the case, the claimant can proceed to court. In court, the woman is usually asked to
produce witnesses who can testify to the reasons she wants a divorce. The witnesses can be 2
men or 1 man and 2 women. These witnesses will have to explain to court that the woman is in
an unhappy marriage due to such reasons and based on her suffering, she is seeking a divorce.
There are no exact questions that are asked of the witnesses. They should be aware of the
personal and family matters of the claimant and should be able to answer all questions put to
them on how they know or believe that family life between the couple is difficult, unhappy and
hence not possible. For those who do not speak Arabic, a translator is provided by the court to
listen to the witness statements.
If the woman is unable to bring any witnesses, the divorce process can still go ahead. What the
judge will try to ascertain from the witness statements is that the married life of the claimant is
not successful or happy.
2. Custody:
Custody is the most sensitive and emotional subject for the claimant, and in this case
particularly the woman. The general rule as far as custody is concerned is that it should be with
the mother until the male child is 11 years old and the female child is 13 years old. However,
this general rule has many exceptions, and it is safe to say that the court looks for the
betterment of the child or children involved.
Should it be in the best interest of the child to remain with the mother even after these ages
described above, the court might extend the custody of the children in the favour of the
mother. Should the court feel even before these ages that the child is better off with the other
parent and its in the child’s best interest, the decision can be handed down against the mother.
However, for this, the burden of proof to show that the mother is unfit is very high and in most
cases the child remains with the mother.
When the child reaches the above age, custody does not automatically pass to the father, he
has to make a claim and file for the custody of the child. If he does not, he is assumed to accept
that the mother should continue the custody of the child.
3. Maximum Financial support and settlement
When it comes to claiming financial support from the husband, the most important aspect of this
is to prove the husband’s income. The income of the husband shall determine the amount of the
maintenance paid towards the children and the one-off lump sum amount to be paid to the wife.
Many people, while claiming for these amounts focus purely on the amount claimed and not the
income, resulting in a weak claim and lower chances of success. The basis for any settlement
decided by the court is the income and that should remain the f ocus for all such proceedings. It
should also be kept in mind that the wife can demand for any unpaid maintenance, or can claim
the reimbursement of any amounts paid towards her living or towards the children by her for up
to 3 years back-dated. Under Personal Status Law, the husband and the fathe r is liable to pay
towards all expenses of his wife and children reg ardless of the woman’s financial standing and
income.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hassan Elhais
After qualifying as a lawyer in his native Egypt and years of successful practice within the field
of criminal and public law, Mr. Elhais moved to Dubai in 2005 and has been practicing as a legal
consultant in Dubai since then. Working exclusively with Al Rowaad Advocates, 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.
Specializing in the drafting of all statement of claim, memos and consultation with regards to all
kind of litigation, Hassan has worked his way through the ranks of Al Rowaad Advocates from
joining as Legal Advisor to his current role as Managing Partner. Member of Egypt Bar