Many family law cases in the United Arab Emirates follow Federal Law No. 28 of the year 2005 (UAE Personal Affairs Law), to which I will be referring to in this blog, to determine which parent is awarded custody. In this particular area of law, the Court is awarded a great deal of discretion, but it is important that their decisions remain consistent. Normally in child custody cases, the Court’s consistently award custodianship to the parent that will best serve the child’s needs.

Read more: Child's Best Interest: United Arab Emirates


A recent case at the Dubai Court of Cassation was overturned based on a procedural error by the public prosecutor and police. Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultancy represented a client from an African country who was accused and detained for possession and use of narcotic drugs such as hashish and marijuana. Our client, along with six other individuals, was accused of illegal possession of hashish and marijuana in December 2013.

Read more: Possession and Using of Drugs in the United Arab Emirates


What are the main jurisdictional requirements for the institution of proceedings in relation to divorce, property and children?

There are a number of exceptions, but in general, the Courts of First Instance (the lowest tier of court) have jurisdiction over family cases filed against citizens or foreigners who are domiciled or resident in the UAE (following Article 5 of Personal Status Law and Article 20 of the Civil Procedure Law). In addition, a citizen or foreigner may commence a divorce in the UAE even if their spouse resides abroad, as long as the spouse is served with the proceedings.

Read more: Validity of Pre and Post: Nuptial Agreements


Author: Hassan Elhais

The UAE is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which protects against the retention of children across international borders and seeks the return of children to their habitual residence. Nor is it a party to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which gives courts in the child’s home state exclusive and continuing jurisdiction for child custody litigation. UAE courts also do not enforce foreign custody orders. However there are certain circumstances in which the UAE has a bilateral treaty with other countries concerning international child abductors and their extradition. Generally though, the UAE follows a comprehensive set of child custody laws set out in its own federal law system.

Read more: Parent Child Abduction in the United Arab Emirates


Contact: Hassan Elhais

For Muslims in the UAE, divorce is the cancelling of the valid contract of marriage between the parties. The divorce can be commenced by the husband, or by the wife if her husband gave her the right to do so (Isma’) in the marriage contract. If the wife is not given the right to divorce the husband within her marriage contract, she may still do so for reasons of ‘harm’. The definition of harm is wide ranging and includes the 7 grounds for divorce set out below.

Read more: Divorce in the United Arab Emirates