If both husband and wife are Muslims and residents in the UAE, Sharia/UAE law will most likely be applied to their divorce. Judges within the UAE courts will use their discretion when applying the law, to ensure that the best interests of a child are met. Whilst these countries are modern and contemporary in many ways, the local laws reflect culture and … Although the statutory provisions set out the guiding principles, the Judge will use his discretion to consider the welfare of the child as the primary concern and make a decision based on the child’s best interests in each particular case. That warning followed the case of a British mother who lost custody of her son to her French ex-husband following a Sharia hearing in Dubai. Whether the meeting is platonic or not, under Sharia law it is deemed to be the same level of offence as committing adultery and can lead to the same penalties. Polygamy is allowed as per the UAE's law. The process of getting a divorce in the UAE can differ between Muslims and non-Muslims. In the United Arab Emirates, the expatriate population significantly outweighs the local Emirati population. Foreign laws cannot be applied where the parties are of dual nationality. The amendments allows for the laws of a person's country of origin to be used for divorces and inheritance in the UAE. Blasphemy is illegal, expats involved in insulting Islam are punished by deportation. Insurance As a UK and Sharia law divorce lawyer based in Dubai, I am often contacted by British expats wondering what the best country for them to divorce in, is. The ability for mediation to be undertaken via skype in the home jurisdiction has greatly widened the scope for settlement of family disputes outside the court arena. Marriage requirements for expat Non-Muslim go by sharia law in UAE. Money. A Judge has discretion as to whether foreign laws should be applied, and will apply the local UAE laws where foreign laws cannot be readily interpreted. Below I will set out some key considerations for expatriates living in the Middle East. As a woman in the UAE, it is a ‘crime of honour’ to be alone with a man other than your husband in a private place. The Dubai Court of Cassation Judgment 252/2006 on 28/11/2006 states that ‘seeing a child is a right of both parents. Whereas now, personal citizenship will actually dictate how things are going to be divided,” said Lewis Delaney, senior associate at Finsbury Associates, a wealth management and financial planning firm. The ability to relocate is regularly of concern to expatriates in the region. Law firms that offer to draft wills guaranteeing that the assets of non-Muslim expatriates will not be subject to Sharia in the event of their death are duping their customers, experts say. Such an agreement could address the circumstances in which one party may repatriate, or custody, or simply agree the future use of mediation or the courts of an alternative jurisdiction in the event of a dispute. Many of the laws in the UAE are based on Sharia law and you should keep that in mind at all times. Until now, non-Muslim expats who divorce in the UAE have either Sharia law or the law of their home country applied (a choice is given), and where the two parents are of different nationalities, the law of the husband’s nationality applies. The warning came after a British mother applying for custody of her son was refused her petition during a Sharia hearing. This applies to the expatriate and local population alike. The custodian is responsible for the nurture and care of the child, and for meeting the child’s day to day needs. The British Foreign Office has warned expat women living in the UAE that they risk facing Sharia justice in divorce or child custody cases. To suit different time zones our phone lines are answered 24/7. Prior to the overhaul, the likely scenario when a person died in UAE was that their assets would be divided under UAE law, including principles of Sharia. In the UAE, Sharia law is the basis of national law, but not it’s only source. First, reforms to the UAE’s personal status laws first enacted in 1987 mean that divorce in the UAE for non-Emirati couples will fall under the laws of the country where they got married. The implications of Sharia Law for Expatriates. Many expatriates move abroad oblivious to the fact that they are subject to the laws of the country in which they are living. Federal Law 28 of 2005 concerning Personal Status. It is essential for expatriates moving to Middle East to be fully aware of the laws that will apply to them, in relation to criminal and family matters. It is a straightforward process for a written agreement to be put before the ‘Reconciliation committee’ of the UAE courts and form the basis of an enforceable agreement. This means that a couple from any religion that files for a divorce will have proceedings dictated by the laws of the country where they got married. “Prior to the changes in the law, when a family member passed away their assets would be divided as per sharia law and expats from Europe or North America are not used to that. She was given a suspended prison sentence. This means that Islamic law, or sharia, would be rarely used when it … Key legal requirements for Muslim marriages Here are the key legal requirements for Muslim marriages: Marriage contract needs to be registered in a Sharia court in the UAE. Apostasy from Islam Apostasy is a crime punishable by death in the UAE. Convictions for adultery are rare, but there have been several cases in recent years of western non-Muslim expatriates being convicted and imprisoned for adultery, and subsequently deported. This is an onerous and costly task, carrying a risk that the true meaning of the laws is lost in translation. When it is not possible to use foreign laws, the UAE family law will apply (Federal Law 28 of 2005 concerning Personal Status). The amendments to the laws, announced on Saturday (November 7), are seen as one of the biggest overhauls of the UAE … The mother then has the choice whether or not to join them and settle in that country, where she could continue to exercise her right to be the custodian of young children. Contact us today for confidential advice: info@expatriatelaw.com. We are looking into getting married here in the UAE. That being said, it is essential for British expatriates in Dubai to be aware of the laws here that may affect them, so that parenting agreements may be put in place before a move, if required.”. When this happens during divorce, or one spouse decides to return to their home country, difficulties can arise. “It is misleading to say that all Britons are subject to Sharia law in the UAE. Prior to the ages set out above, the UAE court is able to move custody to father, maternal grandmother, paternal grandmother, maternal sisters, paternal sisters, maternal niece (in that order or precedence) if it is determined that the mother does not meet the criteria for a custodian. Even though the Personal Status Law provides non-Muslim expatriates with the right to request the UAE Court for the application of their home country law, the Personal Status Law does not however expressly amend the UAE Civil Code. Hence, Sharia becomes impossible to dismiss in matters of inheritances, even for non-Muslim expats. Complaints Expatriate Law Limited is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No 623831, 5th Floor, 20 Old Bailey, However in practice foreign laws are rarely applied for contested court applications. Many Muslim countries are growing exponentially as expatriate hubs, such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Adultery is a criminal offence in the UAE and carries a prison sentence. UAE laws allow for non Muslim expatriates to apply the law of their home countries within the UAE courts in certain circumstances. The laws, which are put into effect immediately, reflect the progressive developments upheld by the UAE government to improve living standards in the UAE and further solidify the country’s position as a destination for foreign direct investment and people from around the world, reported The National. Guardianship involves guiding the child in the right direction in terms of morals, right and wrong, education and religion. The principal source of law of inheritance in UAE is Shariah Law. In the UAE, it is possible for non-Muslim expatriates to ask for the laws of their home countries to be applied by the courts of the UAE. I find that many wives assume that they will be able to travel freely with the children and repatriate if and when they choose irrespective of the father’s wishes. People with different religion may face some challenges. When it is not possible to use foreign laws, the UAE family law will apply (Federal Law 28 of 2005 concerning Personal Status).