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Abu Dhabi introduces court for non-Muslims to deal with family disputes


16 Jan 2022

A court for non-muslim family matters has been established in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, giving foreigners an alternative to the nations federal law applicable to all citizens.

The new court will be hearing cases related to non-Muslim personal status issues and all related forms and procedures will be bilingual in Arabic and English language.

The Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims consists of 20 articles divided into several chapters covering civil marriage, divorce, joint custody of children and inheritance.

The first chapter deals with the marriage procedure for foreigners by bringing in the concept of marriage being held on the will of husband and wife.

The second chapter amends laws for divorce procedures for non-Muslims, highlighting the rights of divorced partners and financial rights of a wife after divorce. The monetary rights of a wife after separation will be decided by judge based on criteria such as “the number of years of marriage, the age of the wife, the economic standing of each of the spouses”.

The third chapter deals with the custody of a child after divorce. It introduces the concept of joint custody, where a child’s custody is equally shared between mother and father.

The fourth chapter is detailing laws for inheritance. Making registration of wills for non-Muslims possible, as well as giving foreigners the right to draw an individualized will to pass on their assets as per their wishes.

The fifth chapter of the law deals with the proof of paternity for non-Muslim foreigners. The proof of paternity of the newborn child may be based on marriage or recognition of paternity.

The United Arab Emirates is first nation in the gulf region, where the new law would apply civil principles in the regulation of all family matters of non-Muslims.

The law will show the global competitiveness as one of the most attractive destinations for talents from many countries.

This article is based on publicly available information and given for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or as a comprehensive analysis of the matters referred to herein.

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