UAE: Family Law

Family Law: United Arab Emirates

We work with lawyers in the UAE and other jurisdictions to assist international clients with UAE connections with family law issues.

Jeremy D. Morley has provided expert opinions as to the child custody laws of the UAE, and, with local counsel, had handled numerous child custody and divorce cases that concern the UAE and other jurisdictions. 

UAE Civil Code Provisions Concerning Choice of Law and Marriage

The following is an unofficial translation of those provisions of the UAE Civil Code that pertain to the issue of what law will apply in the UAE courts to the consequences of a divorce.

It is extremely important to note that the legal provisions do not work simply and mechanically.

For example, all of the choice of law rules are subject to the provision in Article 27 that a foreign law must not be applied if it would contravene "Sharia law, public order or morals." "Public order" is "deemed to include matters relating to personal status such as marriage" and "the other rules and foundations upon which society is based, in such manner as not to conflict with the definitive provisions and fundamental principles of the Islamic Sharia." These restrictions could well be deemed to preclude a foreign law concerning child custody that provides for gender or religious neutrality concerning parenting rights and responsibilities, or provisions in foreign laws that allow a wife the same rights as a husband to divorce and to obtain full and fair division of post-marital assets. 

Article 12

1. With regard to the conditions ensuring the validity of marriage, one shall refer to the law of the husband and wife at the time of the marriage.

2. With regard to form, marriage between foreigners or between a foreigner and a UAE national shall he considered valid if concluded in accordance with the conditions of the country where the marriage occurred, or if it complied with the conditions stipulated by the law of each of the spouses.

Article 14

In cases stipulated in the above two articles, if the wife or husband was at the time of concluding the marriage a UAE national, the law of United Arab Emirates shall be the only applicable law, except for the conditions of legal competence to get married.

Article 15

With regard to alimony the law of the person having such obligation shall be applied.

Article 18

1. Possession, ownership and other property shall be governed by the lex situs in respect of real property, and movable property shall be subject to the law of the place where such property is located when the cause resulting in the acquisition or loss of possession, ownership or other rights over the property arose.

2. The law of the state where the property is located shall determine whether such property is real or movable.

Article 27

It shall not be permissible to apply the provisions of a law specified by the preceding Articles if such provisions are contrary to Islamic Sharia, public order or morals in the United Arab Emirates.

Article 28

The law of the United Arab Emirates shall be applied if it is impossible to prove the existence of an applicable law or to determine its effect.

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