Question: I have custody of my children but my husband is stated as their guardian. What is a guardian and what are his responsibilities under the UAE Laws?
Answer: Guardianship involves supervising, protecting, educating and preparing a child for life, as well as giving consent for the child getting married (though this is only applicable for daughters) when necessary. It may often mean making the decisions regarding a child’s schooling or medical treatment. It also involves guiding the child in terms of morals, education and religion.
Guardianship is at the discretion of the family court judge and may be removed or changed if the guardian is deemed unsuitable for the role or if the guardian is not in the best interest of the child.
The court can strip a person of guardianship if they commit rape, conducts themselves disgracefully, is found guilty of prostitution, or misleads the child. Guardianship can also be lost if the person is sentenced to punishment for a felony crime or misdemeanour that affected the ‘soul’ of the child.
Guardianship can be permanently or temporarily removed if the guardian is sentenced to imprisonment, or subjects the child to excessive danger. When investigating such cases, the court may temporarily decide to hand over guardianship of a child to another suitable family member according to Article 181 of Federal Law no 28 of 2005, or a specialised social organisation.
Question: Can a guardian visit the child anytime they want?
Answer: Contact with a child post-divorce is called visitation. The guardian is entitled to visit the child regularly under the UAE Family Laws. The custodian, usually the mother, may not move the child permanently to another country if it would prevent the guardian from exercising contact with the child.
A guardian (usually the father) may make an application to court for an order to allow him to exercise his right to visit the child. Usually such contact would take place for an afternoon each weekend, and for an additional time during school holidays. Staying contact would only be permitted when the child is more than two years old.
Visitation can also be decided amicably between the parties through the settlement agreement registered with court. This binds both parties to honour the settlement agreement and should any party breach the settlement agreement, a complaint can be filed with the family court for such a breach. It is strongly advised to seek the opinion of a qualified and well-reputed lawyer prior to signing or entering into a settlement agreement as the terms of the agreement are binding on all parties.