Expats can and do get married in Dubai and in other parts of the UAE. “For many expats, the UAE is the place to tie the knot,” says journalist Alice Haine; she also states the UAE is quickly emerging as a top ‘destination wedding’ spot.
Getting married in the UAE can be a pleasant experience. UAE based expats and local brides-to-be just need to be at least 18 years of age to be considered legally eligible for marriage. However, it’s also possible to get married with the consent of a guardian. It is important to note, however, that at least one of the partners needs to have a UAE residence visa to get married.
That said, not everyone can get married. For example, same-sex marriage is disallowed in the UAE.
In Muslim society a couple could get in to trouble with the law for having sex outside marriage. It is also forbidden to live with someone of the opposite sex who is not family-related or married.
Divorce is also possible in UAE. Contrary to what some people may believe, Muslims are free to divorce at will, without a judicial interference and without due process of law. This, of course, does not apply when a husband has inflicted physical or moral harm upon his wife; in that case, the couple will undergo a divorce through a judicial order. As for the custody of children, it depends on the circumstances; the judge will decide their fate.
General principles of the Islamic Sharia laws of the United Arab Emirates will be applied to marriage/divorce cases. Islamic marriages, in general, are governed by Sharia law.
Also, the UAE enacted Federal Law No. 28 (hereinafter, Law) to govern matrimonial issues. At any time, can one of the couple request separation at the Islamic court to terminate the marriage, regardless of commitment in the relationship. A ‘failed’ marriage terminates the conjugal contract.
Under the Personal Status Law (PSL) that applies to all emirates and cover rules over marriage and divorce, a Muslim man cannot marry a non-Muslim, non-Jew, or non-Christian woman (Art. 48). The same article prohibits Muslim women from also marrying non-Muslim men. A judge has the right to disallow marriages in which the man is “double or more” the age of the women he decides to marry (Art. 21). Again, this falls to the court’s discretion.
Regrettably, “UAE has the highest rate of divorce in the region,” disclosed The National. Reasons for Emirati divorcing have been abuse, withholding sex unfairly, marital infidelity, poor communication and financial strain/support. In contrast, partners of different faiths have divorced due to religious and/or cultural differences, and not only.
“When it comes to divorce proceedings between expats, Sharia laws may prevail over that of their home country,” proclaims The National in the post.
Once couples have decided to apply and file for divorce, the process may take anywhere between three to six months to reach a court settlement.
“Under the UAE law, a woman can also claim compensation in two other circumstances – if her husband has not supported her for the last year of their marriage, and for moral damage as a result of being divorced. The payments can be up to 40 per cent of man’s income, for one year only,” says Diana Hamade, Attorney at Law & Legal Consultant, UAE Courts & DIFC Courts, International Advocate Legal Services.
The Dubai Courts or Abu Dhabi Judiciary Department oversees procedures and regulations pertaining to marriages. For personal advice and/or guidance, seek a UAE marriage/divorce counsellor.