What You Need To Know About The Latest Changes To The Family Law In The UAE

The year 2020 has seen unprecedented changes in the United Arab Emirates’ legal regime to adapt to more progressive personal laws. In this article, we would like to discuss the recent changes concerning family law in the UAE.

The federal law number 30 of 2020 (the “New Decree”) amends the Federal Law Number (5) of 1985 (the ‘Civil Transactions Law’) and the Personal Law Number (28) of 2005 amongst others. The new decree completely replaces the articles 12, 13, 18 ,19, 20 ,21,23,24 ,25 and 1116 of the civil transactions law. The said amendments have introduced crucial changes to the personal laws, especially concerning the choice of law governing the validity of a marriage.

Previous to the changes, the nationality of the couple determined the applicable law, however, with the new amendment, the law of the state where the marriage took place would govern the validity. Further, with the new amendment, the financial and personal effects resulting from a contract of marriage will also be governed by the law of the state where the marriage was contracted. The previous position was that the law of the husband’s nationality at the time of the conclusion of the marriage would have applied.

This change has vide reaching impact and potential legal implications with the choice of ‘place of marriage’ dictating both the validity and the future financial and personal implications arising out of the marriage. Under the new law, by choosing the place of marriage to be different from their home countries or place of residence, the couple will be considered to have adopted the laws of such a place to also govern all aspects of their marriage.

 

Examples of possible scenarios for the application of the new law would be:

Scenario one: An Italian expatriate couple resident in the UAE concludes a marriage contract in Italy.

According to the latest law, the law of the country where the marriage was concluded, that is, Italy governs all aspects of the validity of the marriage and all future financial and personal matters related to it.

Scenario two: An American expatriate couple living in the UAE concludes their marriage in the UAE.

According to the latest law, the law of the country where the marriage was concluded, i.e. the UAE, governs all aspects relating to the validity of the marriage and all future financial and personal matters related to it.

Scenario three: A British expatriate couple based in the United Arab Emirates concludes a marriage contract in Mauritius.

According to the latest law, the law of the country where the marriage took place, i.e. Mauritius, governs all aspects relating to the validity of the marriage and all future financial and personal matters related to it.

One would grasp the wide ambit of the new amendments better by considering scenario three more closely, wherein the law of a country in which neither the husband nor the wife holds citizenship or are otherwise connected to becomes the applicable law before the UAE courts to govern all aspects of their marriage. Nevertheless, the new changes open up wide application of different foreign laws before UAE courts with much onus on the judiciary to adjudicate and interpret the foreign laws rightly while determining family matters.

The process concerning family matters can become needlessly complicated for expats living in the UAE especially if proper legal guidance is not sought. Seeking early intervention and legal expertise from an experienced lawyer for divorce, can provide you with the reassurance that your best interests will be looked after. Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultants are one of the top law firms in Dubai with a team of court lawyers and legal consultants providing you un-matched legal expertise in the United Arab Emirates. We let our success stories speak for itself.

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