Tips on getting divorced as an expat in Dubai

Published:  6 Jul at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, Dubai, UAE, England
It’s sad but true that one in four expat marriages in the UAE end in divorce.

Expatriates make up as much as 80 per cent of all residents in the United Arab Emirates, so it’s no surprise that expat divorces are a familiar trend in this popular location. When there’s no hope and divorce is the only way forward, many expats don’t realise the UAE’s rules are far different than those in the home country due to their basis on Sharia law. Should jointly owned assets and children be involved, complications can easily ensue and divorce rates in the emirate are higher than in the rest of the region due to its no longer being considered unconventional, a failure or shocking.

Women are now able to make what they believe to be the right choices for their own happiness. If divorce is the only sensible option, expats can choose the jurisdiction of their nationality, domicile or residence, which can cause issues should the partner choose an alternative location with different rules. For example, should child maintenance be an issues, a Dubai judge might well apply UAE law when making his decision. Importantly, a meeting to determine whether an amicable agreement can be reached is an essential part of the process of examining mutual consent and settlement, and reasons for ending the marriage will also need to be considered.

For couples going down this path, one aspect of divorce in the UAE is inevitably disturbing – that of parental responsibility for children of the marriage. In the UAE, unlike in the UK and other Western countries, parental responsibility is split, with the father as the childrens’ guardian and the mother as their custodian. The result is that the father takes care of education, medical treatment, housing and religious as well as moral guidance, whilst the mother is responsible for their day-to-day care. Should an expat mother wish to return to her home country with her children, the father’s permission must be obtained or a charge of abduction will be made.

Dubai divorce lawyers are now well-versed in the complications arising from UAE/expat divorces, and can give in-depth advice on the best way forward for those involved.
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