Family law in the UAE is governed by Shariah law, from the Islamic principles. For this reason, the courts will often distinguish between situations involving Muslims and non-Muslims. This is the case with a three-month waiting period – known as ‘Eddah’ in Arabic – after a court pronounces a divorce, or ‘Talaq’.

Here are the main points relating to Eddah:

  • The purpose of this waiting time is to both ensure the wife is not pregnant, and to offer an opportunity for a period of reflection where a reconciliation may be able to take place.
  • The husband provides the paid expenses to the wife during the waiting period, regardless of who initiated divorce proceedings.
  • During this timeframe, the wife must stay single.

There are also two types of divorce, revocable and irrevocable. The situation is different in both circumstances:

  • At the end of the Eddah, in the case of revocable divorce if the couple wishes to reunite they must enter into a new marriage contract.
  • With irrevocable divorce, the marriage ends as soon as the divorce happens. There are a further two categories, one with ‘small intent’ and the other with ‘big intent’.
    • With ‘small intent’, the couple may remarry with a new marriage contract and dowry;
    • With ‘big intent’, the couple may only reunite once the wife has married another man and consummated the marriage with intercourse. She must then divorce that man, wait til the ‘Eddah’ has concluded and is then free to remarry her original husband.