“Our value in life is defined by what we do. Achievement is similar to love, they both grow by sacrifice and both are essential for life” – Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Divorce proceedings can be emotionally and financially draining, especially when the parties involved cannot come to an amicable agreement.
In a recent case that we handled, the involved parties, who were both non-Muslim, decided to end their marriage. A legal discrepancy arose between them, as one wished to divorce under their home country’s laws based on Federal Decree-Law no 41 of 2022, while the other sought divorce under Federal Personal Status Law No. 28 of 2005. The couple had a minor child as a result of their union.
In light of this, in the UAE, the Federal Decree-Law no 41 of 2022, came into effect on February 1, 2023, non-Muslim couples can apply their own country’s laws to matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, wills, and proof of parentage if they prefer.
The following articles of the Federal Decree-Law no 41 of 2022, speak about the applicability of the home country law in divorce:
Article 1 point no. 1. states that the law that governs the personal status of non-Muslim citizen, including expatriates, is the law of their home country. This means that if a non-Muslim citizen of the UAE gets divorced, the law of their home country will apply to the divorce proceedings unless the parties agree otherwise.
Article 1 point no. 2. states that if the law of the home country does not provide for a particular matter, then the law of the UAE will apply. This means that if there is a gap in the law of the home country, the law of the UAE will fill in the gap.
Article 1 point no. 3. states that non-Muslim citizens, including expatriates, may choose to apply the law of the UAE to their personal status matters. This means that if a non-Muslim citizen of the UAE wants their divorce to be governed by the law of the UAE, they can choose to do so.
These articles allow non-Muslim citizens, including expatriates, to have their divorces governed by the law of their home country if they so choose. This can be helpful for people who want to ensure that their divorce is handled in accordance with their own religious or cultural beliefs.
On the other hand, Federal Personal Status Law No. 28 of 2005 governs the personal status of all citizens of the UAE, regardless of their religion. It covers matters such as marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance.
Upon being approached by one of the parties, we recommended they reach a settlement as the most suitable course of action, given that the well-being of their minor child was of utmost importance to both parties.
Therefore, in case of a legal discrepancy, settlement is recommended to reach a mutually agreed settlement.
In light of the above case, we strongly recommended our client to allow us to achieve a mutually agreed settlement with the spouse. After several rounds of mediation, a proposal was formulated concerning financial matters and child visits, which was subsequently accepted by both parties.
After the agreement was reached, the settlement letter was submitted to the Personal Status Court for issuance of the verdict as per the parties’ wishes. Therefore, the law that will prevail in a divorce case between two foreign people would depend on the outcome of the settlement and the agreement reached between the parties.
By avoiding a protracted legal process, the parties were able to maintain amicable relations, safeguard the well-being of the child, and save significant time and financial resources.
If you are contemplating divorce, we strongly advise you to approach a qualified lawyer who shall mediate the situation between the parties and attempt to reach a settlement that will benefit both parties.
The following advantages are outlined if the parties reach a settlement agreement:
- It is faster and less expensive than a contested divorce. A mutual agreement can be finalized in a matter of weeks, while a contested divorce can take months or even years.
- It gives the parties more control over the terms of the divorce. When the parties reach a mutual agreement, they can decide on all of the terms of the divorce, including child support, alimony, and division of assets. In a contested divorce, the judge will make these decisions, which may not be in the best interests of the parties or their children.
- It is less stressful and emotionally draining for the parties and their children. A contested divorce can be very stressful and emotionally draining for everyone involved. Reaching a mutual agreement can help to reduce stress and conflict, and it can make the transition to a new life after divorce easier for everyone.
It is important to remember that every case is different, and the best way to proceed with your divorce will depend on your specific circumstances. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with an attorney.
Partner – Legal Director
Elnaggar & Partners