our team of experienced family law attorneys specializes in guiding clients through the divorce process in the united arab emirates_


Which law applies in which case_

It is no secret that United Arab Emirates have the highest rate of divorce in the GCC. According to the recent statistics the current cases in UAE has increased by 40% among the expats, 7% among Emirati couples and 25% among Emiratis married to expatriates.

Love is without boundaries“; alas, so is also divorce. The problems and barriers people will face if they are going for a divorce are countless, in particular when it comes to a divorce between expats. Already being in an emotional turmoil two adults are confronted with all kinds of legal hurdles, they have to take.

Marital infidelity, poor communication, job loss, financial strain, religious and cultural differences, lack of social  and emotional support, unrealistic expectations, social media, incompatibility, and so on has been cited as some of the main causes leading to marital discord and to the eventual dissolution of marriages.

Divorce, like any other matters of family law, is either governed by UAE law, Sharia law or by the individuals home country. If the parties are from different countries, the applicable law is the one from where the marriage was solemnised. In UAE the first step in filing for divorce is to register the case at the Moral and family Guidance Section of the Dubai Courts.


Under the guidance of an appointed counsellor attempts are normally made to reconcile the divorce issues. But if both parties are adamant about the divorce, then the case is forwarded to the courts. Situations when one desires to reconcile while the other doesn’t will still end up being forwarded to the courts.

Our lawyers in the UAE are specialised in divorce, separation, custody, and financial settlements in the UAE and Internationally. Our family lawyers will provide you with a consultation how to protect yourself if you marriage has broken down.

Muslim marriages are governed mainly by the principles of Sharia Law which have been designed in such a way to make it difficult for the couples to divorce, with the emphasis being the sanctity of marriage. If both the husband and wife are Muslims and are residents of UAE, then Sharia law will most likely to be applied to their divorce. It’s the same even in the case where the husband is Muslim and the woman is non-Muslim.

Some of the reasons for seeking divorce include physical abuse, maltreatments, lack of modesty, failure to provide conjugal needs or family support, desertion and mental deficiency.

Non-Muslims and other expats can file for divorce in their home country or in the UAE. Non-Muslims can divorce under their own country’s law depending on where the marriage was solemnised. The divorcing parties can also opt to have the local UAE courts facilitate their divorce even if both citizens are of the same foreign country.

Issues such as support of the child, custody, division of assets and alimony can be a problem when the divorce laws in their country of origin do not coincide with the laws of UAE. In UAE, when the local courts are summoned to decide on divorce proceedings between expats, Sharia laws will prevail over that of their home country.
Divorce and separation can be more painful when children are involved. Parents often feel uncertain as to which of them will have to take care of the daily needs of the children, how the arrangements can work practically in terms of visas, sponsorship, accommodation and other work related benefits.

There are also situations where the non-resident parent becomes more concerned about loosing regular contact with their children, being unable to be with them, taking them on a holiday or visit to their grandparents. Both parents will have concerns on how decisions will be made regarding their children and will be unsure of their rights especially in a foreign country.

Dubai courts will always act on the best interest of the child, in this jurisdiction the mother will become the custodian of the child and the father the guardian of the child. Article 156 of Federal Law No 28 of 2005 for Personal Affairs provides that a child’s custody under the mother ends when their son reaches the age of 11 and when their daughter reaches the age of 13. The father being the guardian can claim the custody thereafter.

Our lawyers at CRESCO Legal will discuss what laws will be applicable to your matter and advise you accordingly. Our aim is to ensure that you and your children are protected and long standing workable arrangements are made between the parents.

The kind of divorces under Sharia and UAE laws broadly fall under two categories. One being the mutual consent divorce or non-mutual consent divorce. Mutual consent divorce is one where the parties mutually agree to end their marriage. Our expert lawyers fluent in Sharia Family matters make the entire process for our clients as simple and transparent as possible.

A settlement agreement is drafted for this process, based on the laws of the UAE and which can later be enforced against the party in breach of the same. The contract drafted will be agreed between the parties before being signed and presented to the court. All couples must go through the reconciliation committee which precedes the settlement agreement where the committee, in the interest of society and the respect for the institution of family decide to give the couple their last chance to reconcile the marriage.

One must be clear when he or she decides to initiate with the proceedings for divorce. For expats its important to seek legal advice before appearing in court. In situations where the home country laws does not fully support or cover certain aspects of the divorce procedure then the Dubai courts would apply UAE law in that case.

However in choosing the jurisdiction its very important to seek legal advice. We at CRESCO Legal would advise you which jurisdiction either UAE or you home country is the most appropriate for you in terms of cost, timescale and outcome. We believe that the stress associated with a divorce can be minimised with the right guidance and legal expertise. With our local experience, strategic and supporting team we can offer efficient and effective assistance to both Muslims and non-Muslims living in the UAE.


Our UAE offices are closed from April 8-12, 2024, you may still reach us on +971 4 406 9680 as our team in Seychelles and the Philippines remain at your disposal. Eid Mubarak!


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