New Family Law for Non-Muslim Expatriates in Abu Dhabi!
Family is like music, some high notes, some low notes, but always a beautiful song. Abu Dhabi has brought relief to expatriates by issuing law No. 14 of 2021, dealing with personal status matters of non-Muslim expatriates. The law consists of 20 Articles separated by several chapters aiming to provide a flexible and advanced judicial mechanism for settling divorce, child custody, inheritance and civil marriage disputes among non-Muslim expatriates in Abu Dhabi.
The Law is applicable to non-Muslims who have:
- A domicile or
- A place of residence or
- A workplace based in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Youssef Saeed Al Abri, Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), acclaimed that the new law is the first of its kind in the world as it deals with the smallest details regarding non-Muslims’ family life, and reflects Abu Dhabi’s legislative leadership and the global status it has achieved.
Important provisions from the new law are as follows:
- Court: New specialized court is established to settle the cases quickly. The court will be bilingual in English and Arabic in order to improve transparency.
- Civil marriages: The concept of civil marriages is introduced, meaning, no parental consent will be required for marriage.
- Divorce: Now spouse has the right to divorce hence, no need to prove the fault of the other spouse. Divorce can be granted at the first hearing if both the parties agree, without the need to go to the family guidance department or reconciliation sessions.
- Custody: Children’s custody can be equally shared between the parents, keeping in mind the welfare, interests and psychological health of the child.
- Will: Non-Muslim expat can draw up a will devolving all his/her property to whomever he/she wishes. Chapter 4 also addresses inheritance issues and the process of registration of wills.
- Paternity: The proof of paternity of the newborn child will be based on marriage or recognition of paternity.
- Alimony: The woman is entitled to alimony, given until she remarries, depending upon the number of years since marriage, financial status of each of the spouses and age of the wife.
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