In the UAE, a non-Muslim individual who is a resident may file for divorce as per the provisions of the country's newly enacted Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims
I am an expatriate living in Dubai. My wife — a housewife — is seeking a divorce, but I am not ready for it. If she initiates the process and gets the divorce, will I be required to pay alimony? She has no other source of income here. Please advise.
Pursuant to your queries, it is assumed that you are a non-Muslim resident of Dubai, and you are married to a non-Muslim woman as per the provisions of law which apply to you in your home country. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022 on Civil Personal Status and Federal Law No.28 on Personal Status as amended by Federal Decree Law No. 8 of 2019, Federal Decree Law No. 5 of 2020 and Federal Decree Law No. 29 of 2020 are applicable.
In the UAE, a non-Muslim individual who is a resident may file for divorce as per the provisions of the newly enacted UAE Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims or may also apply his or her respective family law under which he or she is married. This is under Article 1 (1) of the UAE Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims, which states,
“The provisions of present Decree-Law shall apply to non-Muslim citizens of the United Arab Emirates, and to non-Muslim foreigners who reside in the State unless one of them invokes the application of their respective law, in relation to matters of marriage, divorce, estate, will and proof of affiliation, without prejudice to Articles 12, 13,15,16 and 17 of the referenced Federal Law No. 5 of 1985.”
The provisions of the UAE Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims allow an individual to obtain a divorce in the first hearing of the court itself. This is under Article 3 of the UAE Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims, which states,
“Divorce cases that are filed in accordance with the provisions of this Decree-Law shall not be referred to the family guidance committees and shall be referred directly to the court to issue a judgement at the first hearing."
Further, an individual may also seek a unilateral divorce in the respective Personal Status Court in UAE without providing any justification or reason for divorce. This is in accordance with Article 7 of the UAE Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims, which states,
“Unilateral divorce may be requested and granted if either spouse expresses in court his/her desire to separate and terminate the marriage, without any need to justify their reason or to demonstrate harm or to put the blame on the other party.”
However, once a unilateral divorce is granted by the respective Personal Status Court in UAE, a divorced woman may claim alimony from her ex-husband. This is under Article 9 of the UAE Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims, which states,
“The divorcee, after issuance of the divorce order, apply to the court to obtain an alimony judgement from her ex-husband. Any applications subsequent to divorce shall be added to the court using the form prepared to this effect.
In the event that the conditions or controls of this alimony or other financial requests are not agreed upon in the marriage contract, the acceptance of the application and its duration shall be subject to the discretionary power of the judge after evaluating"(certain factors).
The judge based on the alimony case filed by a woman against her ex-husband, may grant a certain amount of alimony to such woman based on various factors including but not limited to the duration of the marriage, age of the wife, the financial condition of each spouse, negligence or any act due to which divorce has been obtained by the husband or wife, compensation by a spouse for any material or moral damage caused due to divorce, financial damages sustained due to unilateral divorce, payments related to custody and maintenance of children. This is in accordance with sub-clauses 1 to 9 of Article 9 of the UAE Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims.
Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, your wife may file for divorce in the Personal Status Court of Dubai and may obtain it even if you are not willing to agree to a divorce.
However, this is subject to the discretion of the judge based on the petition filed by your wife to obtain a divorce in the Personal Status Court of Dubai. As your wife does not have any income in the UAE, the court may consider only your income to decide the amount of alimony to be paid to your wife by you. However, if you or your wife intend to apply the family law of your home country under which you are married, then the provisions of such law are applicable in determining divorce, alimony, custody and maintenance of children (if any).
However, if you are a Muslim, you and your wife may have to apply the Sharia procedures and the provisions of the UAE Personal Status Law to obtain divorce and matters related to alimony in the UAE.
News Source: Khaleej Times