The new Laws aim to reflect UAE’s continued attempts to improve living standards for the Country’s diverse community. The reforms in relation to Family Law will relate to co-habitation, divorce, separation and the division of assets following the dissolution of the marriage.
Amendments to the Personal Status Law will include that the Laws of the Country in which the marriage took place would be applied in relation to the terms of the marriage instead of applying the Laws of each spouse’s Country of nationality, as was previously the case. The Laws of the Country in which the marriage took place would also be applied in relation to family finances. Previously, when divorcing in UAE, the parties could submit to the Sharia Laws or if in dispute as to the Laws, the parties could apply the Laws of the husband’s nationality. The affect being that if the Law of nationality did not offend public morals or UAE Sharia Law and could be properly adduced and interpreted by the Judiciary then Sharia Law would rarely be used when dealing with family law cases involving expatriates.
Much of the amended Laws will expand on existing procedures for example the requirement to mediate where there is no agreement between the parties. The new Laws will also include changes to the judicial procedure to make it mandatory for translators to be provided for litigants and witnesses who do not speak Arabic and are required to attend Court.
Also in an unprecedented move, the new Laws will allow for the legal cohabitation of unmarried couples. Previously, it was a criminal offence for an unmarried couple, to share a home in UAE.
Upon receipt of the Ministerial Orders implementing the changes, further updates will be provided.
In the meantime, for further information or advice in relation to any family matters, please contact Dee Popat.
The above is a general commentary on the various matters and should not be construed as specific legal advice.
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