Question: I am a Muslim woman who has been married to a Muslim man for five years. I am his second wife and we have one child, a boy. My husband does not live with us because his first wife does not know about me. Do I have the right to ask my husband to tell the truth or to deal with me and our son fairly according to Sharia law? Also, am I able to go to a Sharia court to settle this issue with my husband and do I have the right to ask for a divorce?

Answer: Article No. 55/6 of the UAE Personal Status Law stipulates that "the wife's rights due from her husband would be equitable treatment between her and other wives in case the husband has taken more than one wife". So, firstly, your husband has to treat you fairly, and you have the right to file a case to oblige him to do that. As this case has to start by filling in an application to the reconciliation section of the courts, they will first try to get you both to reconcile. If the reconciliation section feels that the matter cannot be reconciled they would then transfer it to the court, where you could request that your husband treats you fairly and gives you equal treatment to his first wife. Also, you have the right to ask for divorce on the ground that you are not being treated fairly.

Question: My husband and I had a Christian wedding at a church in Dubai. Recently, I delivered my baby prematurely, even though my due date should have been in August. The baby arrived within five months of the date of our marriage and now I am having difficulties getting my child a birth certificate. I am being asked to go to court for some documents or letters. What can I do in this situation?

Answer: According to Article 91 of Law 28 of 2005, the minimum period of pregnancy, which could lead to a child being born, is 180 days, unless an appointed medical committee decide other than that. I do not know the specifics of your dates but if the delivery date was less than 180 days from the date of the marriage, that might mean that the child was conceived out of wedlock. This could be why you cannot obtain a birth certificate and have to file a case in the local courts to get the matter investigated precisely. The court might check if there was any other previous marriage, it might check the date of issuance of the marriage certificate and various other points that can arise in cases like yours. It is highly advisable to get professional assistance to assess the exact details of your case. Especially in these types of cases, the court has the discretionary power to transfer the matter to prosecutors for criminal investigation, if there is a relationship out of wedlock. If it is found that there was such a relationship, that could lead to a potential jail sentence and deportation.