All you need to know about divorce, judicial separation and annulment of marriage in the UAE – Divorce


In the UAE, until very recently, Federal Law Number 28 of 2005 (the UAE Personal Status Law) governed divorce and other family-related disputes. Abu Dhabi Law No. 14 of 2021 (Abu Dhabi Law) is a new law issued by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi that primarily affects non-Muslims living in Abu Dhabi. Muslims in Abu Dhabi are still subject to the UAE’s Personal Status Law.

From February 2023, non-Muslim citizens of the UAE will be protected by the federal Civil Personal Status Law. After the entry into force of the Personal Status Law for non-Muslims in Abu Dhabi, the Federal Government issued the new Federal Law. If a non-Muslim resident does not wish to apply the legislation of his country of origin in the UAE, the new federal legislation covering matters related to alimony, custody, inheritance and lineage will be implemented.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of these legal processes and the laws, procedures and requirements associated with them.

Divorce and judicial separation in the United Arab Emirates:

Judicial separation is a process whereby a court does not dissolve a marriage but allows the parties to live separately. UAE laws do not provide for such a process, so the parties may choose to divorce instead.Divorce is a legal process that results in the dissolution of the marriage contract between two people. In the United Arab Emirates, there are two types of divorce, namely mutual divorce and contested divorce. Mutual divorce occurs when both parties agree to end the marriage. Whereas, in the case of a disputed divorce, one of the parties usually requests a divorce, and the other party refuses to request a divorce.

Divorce in Federal Law No. 28/2005:

Divorce for Muslims in the United Arab Emirates is the annulment of the valid marriage contract between the two parties. Divorce proceedings can be initiated either by the husband, or by the wife, if the husband has granted his wife this right (Ismaa). Wives can file for “harm” divorce even if their husbands did not explicitly allow it in their marriage contracts. Harm can be defined in several ways, including the seven grounds for divorce listed below.

A divorce can be obtained in one of two ways:

The first is the Arabic “al-talaaq” (which translates to “I am divorcing you”). In the presence of a witness, the husband or wife (if they are indigent) must say or write “I divorce you” or “divorce”. According to Islamic law, this is a legitimate way to dissolve a marriage; However, the divorce must be registered with the court before it can be recognized in the civil court.

According to Article 106 of the Personal Status Law, divorce takes place after being approved by a judge. A witness can testify before the court if there is a dispute about whether or not the divorce actually took place. If one partner initiates divorce proceedings without the consent of the other, that person may face financial consequences.

Divorce can also be obtained through the judicial system (called “divorce by judgment”). The applicant will apply for divorce, and the family counseling committee of the court will consider her case.

Before submitting a request for divorce under Article 98 of the Personal Status Law, the Family Guidance Committee tries to reconcile the two parties. Family counselors are not lawyers, but they do have mediation and counseling skills. They sit with both sides, and if they still cannot get along, they bring the matter before the judge. The judge will then determine whether or not the grounds for divorce are sufficient. For example:

  1. Separation due to defects

    1. Flaws including insanity, leprosy, impotence, and venereal disease: A party cannot rely on these “flaws” as grounds for divorce unless they were unaware of the defect at the time of marriage. Article 113 of the Personal Status Law allows the court to postpone a case for up to a year while it investigates whether the deficiency can be “removed.”

    2. Gross dishonesty on the part of either party during the establishment of the marriage. Article 114 of the Personal Status Law allows filing for divorce on the basis of deceiving one of the spouses to conclude the marriage contract.

  2. Divorce for non-payment of dowry (advance).

  3. Separation due to hurt or disagreements

According to Article 117 of the Personal Status Law, a spouse may file for divorce if the other spouse has caused him emotional or physical suffering so severe that the continuation of the marriage becomes impossible. The court can then request the results of the investigation conducted by two arbitrators into the reasons for the dispute between the parties. There could be financial repercussions if either party is found to be at fault.

  1. A divorce may be granted to a wife who was not financially supported during the marriage if the court determines that her husband has the power to do so but chooses not to.

  2. If one spouse disappears without notice, the other spouse may file for divorce. The divorce decision will not be issued until one year after submitting the divorce application, and her husband has not returned during that period.

  3. A husband may file for divorce if his wife has been sentenced to more than three years in prison and he has already served at least one year of that term.

  4. Divorce on grounds of desertion (Arabic: “stone”) can be granted if the husband abandons his family and does not return within four months of his wife’s request.

In cases of divorce between Muslims, the waiting period is known as waiting period. After the court issues a divorce, there is a three-month waiting period. If the woman is pregnant, the waiting period does not end until after the birth of the child. During this time, the wife is expected to remain celibate. The couple should wait to find out if the woman is pregnant, but they should also use this time to consider whether or not they can get back together. No matter who files for divorce first, the waiting time always results in the husband covering the wife’s living costs.

Divorce can be finalized either temporarily or permanently. Both parties can continue to legally marry during the waiting period because their divorce is reversible. If they want to get back together after this, they will have to sign a new marriage contract.

Federal Decree-Law No. Law No. 41/2022 that applies to non-Muslim citizens in the UAE provides for no-fault divorce under Article 7, whereby either party may express before the court his intention to end the marriage without the need to justify any fault during marriage. course of their marriage. Divorced couples filing for divorce under the new law are not required to first seek mediation through a family counseling committee in an effort to repair their relationship; Alternatively, they can go directly to court.

Divorce takes place immediately after the verdict is pronounced, and the wife is not required to wait a certain period.

Dissolution of marriage in the UAE:

According to the UAE Family Law, an annulled marriage is considered an annulment of the marriage from the beginning. Dissolution of marriage in the UAE is a legal procedure to annul a marriage so that it is completely, legally, wiped out and declared that the marriage did not technically exist nor was it valid at all. The marriage may be annulled if it is contrary to the general policy of the United Arab Emirates.

In certain circumstances, even a properly notarized marriage certificate will not be sufficient to allow the marriage to be recognized in the UAE. This is because some marriages in Islam cannot be recognized. These are as follows:

  • Marriage between a Muslim man and a non-Muslim, Christian or Jewish woman.

  • Marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man

Legal update:
The above information may not apply if both parties are non-Muslims. As of February 1, 2023, the UAE has issued a specific family law to be applied among non-Muslim expatriate residents in the event that none of them wish to apply the law of their country of origin in the UAE. To find out more information about this law, feel free to click here connection.

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject. It is advised to take the advice of specialists in such circumstances.


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