There are some common misconceptions that expatriates have about UAE family laws. Hassan Elhais, a Legal Consultant in Dubai, Femina ME’s guest columnist, clears the misunderstandings.

If the wife applies for a divorce she will forfeit her right to get financial support from husband.

This is a completely false belief. When a divorce is filed under UAE laws, Article 146/6 and 156 of Federal Law No. 28/2005 – the Personal Status Law, provides that the wife shall retain custody of children till they reach custody age, i.e. 11 for boys and 13 for girls. Under Article 67 of the same law, the husband is obligated to provide for the children’s expense and the wife’s expenses for a period of the whole marriage or the months where he did not provide with a maximum backdated effect of 36 months at the time of divorce. In addition, the husband is also obligated to financially support the wife for a period of three months after the divorce is filed which we call the Waiting Period/Iddat period as per Article 69 of the Law.

Moreover, Article 53 of the Personal Status Law states that if divorce applicant is a Muslim woman and there was a delay in the payment of dowry – Mehr to her, she will have right to get it. In case the wife is claiming divorce from the husband because of physical violence, verbal abuse, husband committing adultery etc., she will have the right to get all her financial rights. In case the court decides to accept divorce application without knowing what the reason for divorce is or whose fault it is, the wife would still get custody of children and financial support for them and her own expenses for three months after the divorce.

During the waiting Iddat period, the wife cannot leave the house.

According to UAE laws, a divorce certificate is issued initially on a revocable basis, which can be revoked within a period of three months from the date of its issue. On expiry of three months, the certificate would automatically be converted into a final irrevocable certificate. This period of three months is called the Waiting Period or Iddat period. During this period the wife has the right to lead a full and normal life with the only exception or restriction being that she is not allowed to re-marry until the completion of this period. The wife shall have full rights to work and engage in all her normal activities. There is no restriction under the law except the one stated here.

In the Criminal Court, to prove that the husband is cheating, four witnesses need to be produced.

This is another popular misconception prevalent among expat wives, which is completely untrue, as adultery is a serious breach of UAE criminal law. As per Article 356 of Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 – the UAE Penal Code, if the accused is found guilty he/she will face a likely jail sentence and a definite deportation order. The criminal court has full discretionary powers to evaluate any evidence that has been submitted by a complainant including communications exchanged between the accused parties, photos, videos, witnesses, written admission/s made by accused etc. It is the pure discretionary power of the court and its decision shall be based on the circumstantial evidence surrounding the complaint. The court also has the discretionary power to order an investigation into the complaint if reasonable evidence has been submitted by the complainant.

The Islamic principles/Sharia law is always in favour of the husband.

This is totally untrue as we found in many cases that a woman petitioner will never be able to see such favorable judgments even in her home jurisdiction. For example, in the UAE a husband cannot claim joint custody of children, unlike many other countries. Another good example, which may be considered, is that a husband cannot claim half of wife’s income or assets at the time of divorce even if she is richer than and has more assets than the husband in accordance with Articles 62, 66 and 67 of the UAE Personal Status Law. In addition, under UAE laws the husband is always liable to provide financial support to the wife for maintenance of children regardless of his income and financial standing. The wife has no such obligation on her to provide financial support for her children.