Family is the foundation of society, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recognizes the importance of strong family structures. To safeguard the welfare and rights of families, the UAE has established a comprehensive system of family law that governs various aspects of familial relationships. The UAE follows Sharia law principles in matters of marriage and divorce. Muslim residents can marry according to Islamic traditions, while non-Muslims can marry under the civil law of their respective home countries or choose to have a court marriage in the UAE.
In cases of divorce, both parties may initiate proceedings based on specific grounds, such as incompatibility or maltreatment. Sharia courts handle divorce cases for Muslims, while non-Muslims may seek resolution through their respective embassy or consulate or use the civil courts in the UAE.
When marriages dissolve, child custody and guardianship become critical issues. In the UAE, courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making decisions regarding custody. For Muslim families, Sharia law grants mothers’ custody of young children until they reach a specified age (usually 11 for boys and 13 for girls), after which the father may be granted custody. Non-Muslims can have their custody cases handled based on their home country’s laws, but UAE courts tend to favor mothers in custody disputes, especially for younger children.
Child support and maintenance are essential components of family law in the UAE. The custodial parent is entitled to financial support from the non-custodial parent to cover the child’s expenses, including education, healthcare, and general upbringing. The amount is determined based on the non-custodial parent’s income and the child’s needs, with the court playing a significant role in ensuring fair and adequate support for the child’s well-being. Non-Muslim expatriates living in the UAE can choose to have their personal status matters governed by the laws of their home country or follow the local UAE laws.
The UAE government has established Personal Status Courts to handle cases involving non-Muslim residents’ marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance. This allows non-Muslim families to resolve disputes according to their cultural or religious beliefs, promoting diversity and respecting individual rights within the expatriate community. The UAE has stringent laws against domestic violence to protect individuals within families from harm.