The UAE today has a total population of 3.5 million Indian Expats, which comprises 27 % of the total population of the UAE. Through this article, we would like to guide you on the latest changes brought in the UAE personal laws and how the same affects Indian Expats.
The UAE introduced the federal law No.30 of 220, which has amended the Federal Law number (5) of 1985 ('The Civil transactions Laws') and the Personal Law number 28 of 2005. Various key articles of the civil transactions law have been amended to introducing crucial changes to personal laws, especially concerning the family law in the UAE. These changes are bringing in a progressive development to the UAE personal laws.
Prior to these changes, the nationality of the couple used to determine the applicable law; however, with the new amendment, the law of the state where the marriage took place would govern the validity. This allows the application of the personal laws of an Indian national before the UAE courts. The personal laws governing marriage and divorce in India are categorized into the following laws:
- The Hindu Marriage Act 1955 and its amendments
- Indian Divorce Act,1869 and its amendments
- Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act
- Special Marriages Act 1954 and its amendments
Wherein the law applicable is determined based on the religion of the couple, for instance, the Hindu Marriage act applies to Hindus, the Indian Divorce Act applies to Christians and, Dissolution of Muslim Marriage applies to Muslims and for inter-religious marriage, the provisions of the Special Marriage Act applies.
For Indian ex-pats in the UAE, it is important to understand that they can approach the UAE courts for any remedies concerning their marriage, including divorce proceedings. For many reasons, the procedures for mutual divorce, i.e. a divorce with the consent of both the spouses, can be obtained from the UAE courts through direct and time-efficient procedures.
It is important to understand that before approaching the UAE courts relating to any remedy pertaining to family matters, at first, a mediation step should be completed before the family guidance department. Considering the important high place to the institution of families, it is pertinent that any dispute concerning family affairs is submitted to the family guidance committee, and an amicable resolution is attempted by the parties before proceeding to the Court.
In order to reach an amicable resolution concerning their divorce, the couple should be able to reach an amicable resolution and should be able to agree on the following broad points:
- How the finances will be divided?
- In case the couple has children: Then further questions apply as to:
- Who keeps custody of the children?
- How are the visitation rights to be allowed to the other parent? and
- Who pays for the child support?
If the parties are not able to resolve their differences, then they can obtain a 'no -objection certificate' from the family guidance committee and then approach the courts for remedy.
With the new amendments introduced by UAE, the financial and personal effects resulting from a contract or marriage will also be governed the law of the state where the marriage has been contracted. This change has vide reaching impact and potential legal implications with the choice of 'place of marriage' dictating both the validity and the future financial and personal implications arising out of the marriage. Under the new law, by choosing the place of marriage to be different from their home countries or place of residence, the couple will be considered to have adopted the laws of such a place to also govern all aspects of their marriage. Nevertheless, the new changes open up wide application of different foreign laws before a UAE court with much onus on the judiciary to adjudicate and interpret the foreign laws rightly while determining family matters.
The process concerning family matters can become needlessly complicated for ex-pats living in the UAE, especially if proper legal guidance is not sought.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.