UAE government has notified a new legislation in Abu Dhabi, regulating family matters for non-Muslims including marriage, divorce and inheritance.
- The legislation provides a modern judicial framework k for foreigners residing in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to resolve family disputes in line with international best practices.
- The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department has established the first court for non-Muslim family matters. The procedures of the new court will be bilingual, i.e., in Arabic and English, to simplify the understanding of judicial procedures by foreigners and to improve judicial transparency.
- The legislation consists of 20 articles divided into several chapters covering civil marriage, divorce, joint custody of children and inheritance.
- First chapter regulates the marriage procedures of foreigners before the court by introducing the concept of civil marriage based on the will of both the husband and wife.
- Second chapter states the divorce procedures for non-Muslims, the rights of the spouses after divorce and the discretion of the judge in assessing the financial rights of the wife based on several criteria, such as the number of years of marriage, the age of the wife, the economic standing of each of the spouses and other considerations that the judge takes into account in determining the wife’s financial rights.
- Third chapter introduces a new concept in post-divorce child custody, namely, the sharing of custody equally between the father and mother, i.e., joint or shared custody.
- Fourth chapter states inheritance issues, the registration of wills for non-Muslims, and the right of a foreigner to draw up a will devolving all his/her property to whomever he/she wishes.
- Lastly, fifth chapter of the legislation regulates the proof of paternity for non-Muslim foreigners, providing that the proof of paternity of the new-born child is based on marriage or recognition of paternity.