Ending a marriage is never going to be easy. There is no doubt about that, divorce will take its toll on you emotionally and financially. In this article, we will guide you to better understand the legal process which is followed in family disputes.
The first stage of the legal process for divorce is the Family Guidance Committee. The purpose of the Family Guidance Committee is to try and reconcile between the parties before separating them under Article 98 of the Personal Status Law of the UAE.
In family matters, the local Courts cannot be approached directly. As a prerequisite, the case has to start with the Family Guidance Committee prior to approaching the courts. This is considered as an important step as they try to resolve any matters amicably between the husband and the wife due to the importance of family in the social context.
- While approaching the Family Guidance Committee, the claimant needs to take the following documents with him/her:
- Emirates ID
- Original Marriage Certificate/ Contract
If the marriage has been contracted outside the UAE, then the documents should be legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UAE Embassy of the issuing country. The same document then must be attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE, translated into Arabic and stamped by the Ministry of Justice.
- Once the claimant has filed the above documents, the Family Guidance Committee gives a date for the hearing to the other party. At this stage of the process, the husband and the wife are required to appear in person before the Committee and cannot be represented by family members or lawyers.
- However, it should be noted that the Family Guidance Committee is not authorized to issue any judgment without the consent of both parties and force the other party to accept any solution. At this stage, the parties are well within their rights to refuse any settlement offered by the committee.
- Care should also be taken regarding the moral and cultural codes of the UAE, while approaching the family guidance committee or any court in the UAE. Both men and women should dress appropriately and in keeping with the cultural norms of the UAE. The Family Guidance Committee and the Courts have complete discretion to disallow inappropriately dressed person(s) from entering the court.
- If both parties attend and no amicable solution is reached, the Family Guidance Committee shall issue a No Objection Letter or Transfer Letter to the claimant. This NOC allows the claimant to file the case in Court and start the legal process of divorce.
- If the Parties reach an amicable solution and are willing to sign a settlement agreement to that effect, it is strongly advised that they seek the assistance of a lawyer at that point. The settlement agreement in this case is signed before the judge from the Family Guidance Department and kept in their file for all future references and two copies are given to the Parties. Both parties must abide by the terms of this settlement agreement, so any terms agreed between the parties should be reviewed by competent lawyer to ensure that, such terms are in their favor and not detrimental to their interest.
Knowledge of Law
In the UAE, divorce decree may be obtained under Sharia Law for Muslim expats and non-Muslims may apply provisions of Article 1(2) of the Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 concerning personal status (the ‘Personal Status Law’), which allows them to apply their own personal laws.
This is in accordance with Article 1(2) of the UAE Personal Status Law which states: “The provisions of this law shall apply to the citizens of the United Arab Emirates unless non-Muslims among them have special provisions applicable to their community or confession. They shall equally apply to non-citizens unless one of them asks for the application of his law.”
It ought to be noted however that Article 13 of the UAE Civil Transactions law provides that the law of Nationality of the husband at the time the marriage was contracted shall apply to the effects of such marriage on personal status and property, while divorce shall be governed by the laws of nationality of the husband at the time the proceedings are initiated for divorce.
The Party seeking application of his law of nationality shall provide the Court with a notarized, legalized version of such law translated to Arabic by a sworn translator as approved by the UAE Ministry of Justice.