Summary: In my column this week in The National newspaper, I answer an Egyptian woman who wants to know whether it is possible to apply the rule of her home country in the UAE in a family dispute, in this case as it relates to the age of the children when custody passes to the father. As I explain, religious laws from other countries take precedence in the UAE, so would indeed be applicable. I also explain to a concerned mother what she must do in order to prove she is a fit mother to her children, given her ex-husband seems to be ready to dispute custody.
My husband and I are both Christian Egyptians. In our country, when applying for custody of children, boys must remain with their mother until aged 7 and girls until they are aged 9, then they must be given to the father. Can I apply the same rule in the UAE?
According Article 1 of UAE Family Law No 28 of 2005 you have the right to apply your own nationality's law and according to Article No 25 of UAE Civil Law No. 5 of 1985, in case in your home country you have a specific law that applies in your religion then this law has to be applied. Since in your country the applied law would be the religion law in your case, which states the age limit, hence, you will have the right to bring this law and apply it here.
I am a divorced mother. I have had custody of my child for a long time. Now, my husband is disputing this custody. I am afraid that I cannot prove I am a fit mother to take care of my child.
When dealing with similar cases, the Supreme Court of Dubai decided that in case you already have custody of your child and no new circumstances arose that affect your ability to take care of your child and his/her best interests, your husband shall be the one to prove he is fit to take care of the child. He would also have to prove why he is claiming custody and what the new circumstances that arose are that gives him the right to file such a case.
The same rule exists in Article 118 of UAE Civil Law No. 5 of 1985 which states that "evidence is used to prove the contrary of what is apparent and oath to corroborate what originally exists."
However, it is advisable to have witnesses who can testify in court how it is in the best interest of the child to be with you and, should custody is granted to the father, the best interests of the child can be affected.
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.