UAE: Rights Of Non-Muslim Women Seeking Divorce From Husband Explained

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Sun 16 Jun 2024, 8:32 AM

Question: I am a working woman who earns more than my husband. We are non-Muslims and have two children from the marriage. If I seek a divorce from my husband, what are my rights regarding alimony and child support if we decide to stay in the UAE?

Answer: In the UAE, a non-Muslim individual may apply the provisions of federal Decree Law No. 41 of 2022 on Civil Personal Status (the 'UAE Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims') about personal matters.

A non-Muslim individual is also allowed to apply the provisions of personal laws of his or her home country before a personal status court, which has jurisdiction in the UAE to handle personal matters. This is according to Article 1(1) of the UAE Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims, which states:

"The provisions of this decree-law shall apply to non-Muslims who are citizens of the UAE, and to non-Muslim foreigners residing in the state, unless any of them adheres to the application of the law of their home country, with regards to the articles of marriage, divorce, inheritance, wills, and proof of parentage, without prejudice to the provisions of Articles (12), (13), (15), (16), and (17) of the Federal Law No. 5 of 1985."

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Equal between men and women

The rights and obligations are equal between men and women as per Article 4 of the UAE Personal Law for non-Muslims regarding witnesses, inheritance, right to request divorce and joint custody.

Both the husband and wife may have joint custody of the child/children once the divorce is granted by a personal status court in the UAE. The law states:

"The application of the provisions of this Decree Law shall take into account equality between women and men in terms of rights and duties, and this shall apply in any way, particularly in respect of:

- Joint custody: that a woman and a man shall have an equal right to assume joint custody of the minor child until the latter reaches the age of (18) eighteen years, after which the child shall have the freedom of choice.”

Alimony and custody

Additionally, a woman may file for alimony, maintenance and custody of her child/children. The court, however, may decide the alimony and maintenance of a woman to be paid by her ex-husband based on factors such as the number of years of marriage, age of the wife, financial stability of both husband and wife; if reasons for divorce are due to negligence or commission of any acts by a husband; financial loss incurred by any of the party to the case; reasons such as a wife such is not interested in taking care of children, etc.

The husband – as the father of the child/children – is obligated to pay the expenses related to custody of the child/children to his ex-wife. The law states:

“The father shall be liable for the expenses and costs of the mother's custody of the children during joint custody, for a temporary period not exceeding two years in accordance with the findings of the accounting expert's report.”

Maintenance to a wife may be stopped if she marries another man or, in the event, the custody of children ends for a valid reason. Further, a wife may also request a personal status court in the UAE to revise the amount of maintenance according to changing circumstances.

Home country's laws

A non-Muslim individual may also apply the provisions of his/her home country's personal laws instead of the provisions of the UAE Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims for matters related to divorce, maintenance of wife and custody/maintenance of children.

Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, you may consider whether to apply the provisions of UAE Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims or the personal laws of your home country, whichever is more beneficial to you.

Applicable law

  • Federal Decree Law No. 41 of 2022 on the Civil Personal Status

Ashish Mehta is the founder and managing partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: Readers may e-mail their questions to: ... or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.


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