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Divorce – the last recourse

divorce-in-dubaiWe’re usually brought up to believe that when two people fall in love, the natural outcome is getting married and building a family. Even in countries where arranged marriages are the norm, and the basis for pairings are usually economic, social or political in nature, marriage is considered a sacred union or bond between a man and a woman, ratified by the legal system with society bearing witness.

And just as the decision to get married is no easy one, so have the legal systems across countries made it difficult to grant divorce to estranged couples or to those who feel they can no longer live together as husband and wife.

UAE leads in divorce
It is no secret that the UAE has the highest rate of divorce in the region, with Dubai taking first place within the country. In 2012, Dubai alone recorded 1129 divorces, with divorce among Emiratis making up one-third of all divorces.

Various reasons for the high rates of divorce in the country have been cited. Reasons like marital infidelity, poor communication, job loss or financial strain, religious and cultural differences, lack of social and emotional support, unrealistic expectations, social media, sexual incompatibility, and child-rearing problems have been found to cause marital discord and to the eventual dissolution of marriages.

With expats making up a large portion of the UAE population, this in itself plays a large part in the incidence of infidelity and how quickly married partners become emotionally and physically estranged. The transitory nature of expat populations, where people come and go, stay for a few years and then leave, definitely has an impact even on the quality of relationships, including marriage.

Divorce among Muslim couples
Islamic marriages, by and large, are governed by the Sharia Law which has been designed to make it difficult for couples to divorce. Some reasons for seeking divorce include lack of modesty on the part of the wife, cruelty, maltreatment or physical abuse, failure to provide conjugal needs or family support, desertion, and mental deficiency.

In Dubai, the first step in filing for divorce is to register the case at the Moral and Family Guidance Section of the Dubai Courts. Attempts to reconcile divorcing parties will be made with the guidance of an appointed counselor. If both parties are adamant about the divorce, then the case is forwarded to the Courts. Situations when one desires to reconcile while the other doesn’t will still end up being forwarded to the Courts when any attempts at mediation and reconciliation fail.

Divorce among expats
Non-Muslims and other Expats can file for divorce in their home country (domicile) or apply for divorce in the UAE. Non-Muslims who got married in the country can divorce under their own country’s laws.

Matters become complicated, though, when the divorcing couple, even if both citizens of the same foreign country, decide to have the local courts facilitate their divorce. Problems regarding child support, custody, alimony and the division of assets can be a big headache when the divorce laws in their country of origin do not coincide with Sharia laws. In this situation, it must be remembered that when the local courts are summoned to decide on divorce proceedings between expats, the Sharia laws may prevail over that of their home country.

This can lead the aggrieved party, or the one losing out more financially, to seek an appeal or proper financial settlement in their home country, which will then begin another cycle of financial, emotional and physical challenges.

Things can also take a turn for the worse if both parties come from two different countries, and cannot arrive at a decision as to where they will apply for divorce. Imagine a scenario where the local courts are made to decide, and both parties are unhappy about the outcome. This could lead to a series of further legal struggles on both sides.

Find a peaceful conclusion
People quickly realize during ongoing divorce proceedings that they begin to lose sight of all that had once made their marriage worthwhile. Even if the concerned parties have determined that there is no way to save their marriage, engaging specialist divorce lawyers will help ensure they have an orderly parting, and that any children borne out of their union (or adopted in the course of their marriage) are fairly protected.

The best recourse is still doing everything you can to arrive at an amicable settlement with your soon-to-be ex. This can be accomplished with the help of divorce lawyers who are experts in their field, and who can give you reliable and accurate legal advice, and help make the best arrangements to protect your interests, and benefit you and your dependents (i.e. children) in a legally binding manner.

Article Courtesy of

Nita Maru LLB (Hons) UK
Solicitor and  Managing Partner
TWS Legal Consultants
Office Suite 3001, HDS Tower
Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai UAE
Tel No. : +971 4 448 4284


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