In the UAE, Muslim family matters are regulated by Federal Law No. 28/2005 on the Personal Status Code, and it is significant to understand the legal provisions that protect the rights of wives and children when a husband abandons his family.

This article aims to discuss the legal aspects of this particular situation, addressing the challenges faced by abandoned wives and children.

  • Establishing Prejudice and Grounds for Divorce:

According to Article 122 of the UAE's Personal Status Law, when a husband abandons his wife and children, it is essential to prove that his actions have resulted in prejudice to the family.

Under the UAE's Personal Status Law, this prejudice must be established through legally accepted means of proof and court judgments rendered against one of the spouses. In such circumstances, the wife retains the right to file for divorce, seeking relief from this distressing situation.

  • Alimony for the Wife and Children:

Among the primary concerns for a wife left in such a difficult situation is the need for financial support. UAE law obligates husbands to provide financial support, referred to as alimony, to their wives and children. As mentioned in Article 63, alimony includes food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and any other necessities required to maintain a suitable standard of living.

Additionally, Article 66 specifies that alimony is due to the wife as a result of a valid contract, even if she refrains from marital relations. It also stipulates that alimony is owed to the wife from the date when it was due, constituting a debt on the husband, irrespective of a court judgment or agreement. This obligation remains enforceable until payment or discharge.

Furthermore, Articles 78 and 79 address the responsibility of parents, primarily fathers, for providing alimony to their children, taking into account factors such as the child's age, gender, and ability to earn a living.

  • Child Custody:

Article 142 underscores the importance of safeguarding the rights of children. In cases of abandonment, the court may grant custody of the children to the mother who can ensure their well-being and proper upbringing. Custody of the child is granted to the mother until the child reaches a specified age: 11 years for boys and 13 years for girls.

The court possesses discretionary authority to modify custody arrangements when it deems such changes to be in the best interest of the child. The court's decision is consistently guided by the best interests of the child, prioritizing their physical and emotional welfare.

  • Guardianship:

While custody primarily concerns the day-to-day care of the child, guardianship pertains to decisions regarding their upbringing, education, and general welfare. Under the Personal Status Law, the father is designated as the guardian of the children, even if he does not have custody. This responsibility extends to providing financial support for the children, even after a divorce.


When a husband abandons his wife and children in the UAE, the Personal Status Law offers essential legal protections. Article 122 empowers wives to seek divorce when prejudice can be substantiated. Alimony ensures financial support for the family, while custody and guardianship arrangements prioritize the child's best interests.

Legal Update:
The above information might not apply if both parties are non-muslim. Starting from the 1st of February 2023, UAE issued specific family law to be applied between non-muslim expatriate residents in case none of them wanted to apply his/her home country's law in the UAE. To know more information about this law, please feel free to click this link.

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.