Expat Divorce in UAE: What You Need to Know

Where to start of a divorce proceeding
A divorce proceeding could happen in the husband’s home country or the wife’s, in any country that the couple resided in or at the local UAE court. Note that the result of the proceedings may differ depending on where the proceedings happened.

Grounds for divorce
The grounds for divorce in the UAE consider what benefits the children and the family’s financial assets. Whoever is the court decides to be fault with the breakdown of the marriage could, at the worst case scenario, lose custody of their children. If the accused is an expatriate they could also be deported.

Divorce process
It would take at least three months for the divorce to be settled considering if the parties were able to reach an agreement in respect of the divorce and the arrangements for the finances and the children. If this is not the case, the proceedings can continue for over a year or more depending .

Financial outcomes
If the divorced proceeded in the UAE, both parties could retain their assets and properties under their name while in the Western law, it could vary depending on what the court decided deserves the most assets.
What if the other party refuses to cooperate?

The court could order for the uncooperative spouse to cooperate to the proceedings however this could vary depending on what country the order is coming from. The weight of an order can come from the assets and availability of enforcement mechanism in the country in which the proceedings is happening.

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Leaving with children
It could be considered child abduction if one parent would take their child out of their residence without the consent of their spouse. The other spouse could then ask the court to order to have the child taken back from their residence. If the spouse is planning to leave with their children, a spouse could ask for a travel ban to prevent their spouses from leaving the country if they are threatening to leave with their children. It would be difficult for a mother to lift a travel ban if the husband was the one who issued it than vice versa.

Living Arrangements
In the UAE, the mother would become the ‘custodian’ of the young children while the father would be the ‘guardian’ after the divorce. The custodian basically means having to take care of the children and their needs. However, at the age of eleven for boys and thirteen for girls, the custody would change to the father depending on the decision of the court. The court could also have the father or any close relative be the full-time custodian if the mother is not fit to the criteria of being a custodian.

Visa Situation
A wife could retain her visa by full or part time employment and setting up a free zone company.

Cost
Dh12,000 to Dh20,000 separate from financial settlement and any dispute regarding to children.

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