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Covid – 19 Ex-pat Overview for Starting the Divorce process in UAE or UK

Covid – 19 Ex-pat Overview for Starting the Divorce process in UAE or UK

14 Jun 2020
Covid – 19 Ex-pat Overview for Starting the Divorce process in UAE or UK

Despite closure of the physical Court buildings in UAE and UK, both jurisdictions have been able to proceed with and progress divorces through their remote processes.  You should be aware that due to the current situation, there may be some delays in the process however the aim of the authorities is to deal with all matters in an attempt to reach the desired resolution.   

UAE 
If you have a valid Residency Visa and are living in UAE, you can divorce through the UAE Courts.  The UAE is an Islamic State and the family legal system is based on Sharia Law.  If the parties, or husband, is Muslim, then unless they are nationals of a country that has its own personal status law specific to Muslims (such as GCC countries, India or Iran), then the Sharia Law of the UAE will be applied to the case.  If both parties are non-Muslims, then they can either submit to the application of Sharia Law or one of them (if not both) may ask the court to apply the law of the husband’s nationality which would have to be produced in entirety, attested as being the current, applicable law and translated into Arabic.  

Due to the current temporary closure of the Dubai Court building, applications for divorce should be made online through the e-registration process at https://www.dc.gov.ae/CaseRegistration/CaseRegistration.aspx. Prior to making the application, you should ensure that you have the relevant copies of the parties’ Passports, Emirates IDs and attested and translated marriage certificate (if not already in Arabic).  As the conciliation process is a mandatory step prior to issuing proceedings at Court, following the registration of the divorce file, you will be contacted by the Counsellor / court office to book an initial conciliation session.  

Currently, conciliation appointments are taking place remotely. The parties may be required to participate in a number of sessions with the Counsellor prior to acceptance that the marriage has broken down and divorce is the appropriate outcome.  If the matter is amicable, the Counsellor can be presented with a settlement agreement which has been approved by the parties so that he can progress the divorce.  If matters are not agreed, the Counsellor will have to issue a NOC to start a case. 
 
We are able to assist you through the divorce process and advise you on your rights and entitlements.  We are also able to draft settlement agreements and we also provide advice and assistance in contested matters.    

UK
The English Courts have jurisdiction* in relation to divorce under Article 3(1) of the Brussels II bis Regulation if the couple are both habitually resident in England and Wales; the couple were last habitually resident in England and Wales and one of you continues to reside there; the respondent is habitually resident in England and Wales;  the petitioner is habitually resident in England and Wales and has resided there for at least one year before presentation of the divorce petition; the petitioner is domiciled in England and Wales and has been habitually resident in England and Wales for at least the six months before presentation of the divorce petition or the couple are both domiciled in England and Wales.
If you are eligible to divorce in England, have been married for over one year and are able to evidence the irretrievable breakdown in the marriage* (unreasonable behavior; Adultery; desertion; 2 years separation or 5 years separation) you may start a divorce Petition online.  The step by step process is on the UK Government website - https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-divorce
*specific advice should be sought from a Solicitor with regards to jurisdiction and the evidencing of the irretrievable breakdown in the marriage.   
 
We are able to assist you through the process and advise you on your rights and entitlements.  We are also able to advise you on matters relating to family finances and children. 

You should be aware that for the last 3 months, the family court system in England has been operating on an almost entirely remote basis and a large number of family cases are being dealt with each day, across the jurisdiction, by way of remote hearings.  So although there may be some delays, your divorce can still progress through the English Courts.   
  
Recognition by the UAE of foreign orders
If you are living in the UAE as an ex-pat, you should be aware that if you divorce in the UAE, as long as the divorce took place in compliance with the Laws of the UAE, the divorce should be valid in your home Country.  It is however important to know that the law in the UAE does not provide for automatic recognition and enforcement of foreign family court orders.  It is therefore essential to ascertain what obligations between the parties may need to be enforced in the UAE and ensure the terms are mutually entered into by way of a Settlement Agreement registered in the Dubai Courts for essential provisions to be recognised and enforced in UAE.

For further information or advice, please contact our Family Department or Dee Popat.

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