Wondering what are the rights of housewives in the UAE? Expat legal consultant Dr. Hassan Elhais answers.
7 August 2023| Last updated on 8 August 2023
Which UAE law governs family affairs such as marriage, divorce, child custody etc.?
Following the changes set by Abu Dhabi Law No. 14 of 2021 on Civil Marriage and its Effects in Abu Dhabi, the new Federal Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022 went into effect on February 1, 2023.
The UAE Personal Status Law No. 28 of 2005, which governed the personal family affairs of expats and UAE citizens, will continue to apply to Muslims in the UAE, but these new regulations will also govern all aspects of family life for non-Muslim expats in the UAE, including marriage and divorce.
Changes to non-Muslims' personal status in areas such as family guidance mediation, rights between the parties regarding testimony, inheritance, divorce, and custody, have been instituted by a new federal law.
Civil marriage is now legal on a federal level, and both parties have equal rights to file for divorce under the new law. The new federal law addresses issues of child support, parental rights, inheritance, and alimony.
What are the legal rights of stay-at-home housewives in the UAE?
In the UAE, the wife has the right to demand maintenance support from the husband during the marriage, as stated in Article 63/1 of the UAE Personal Status Law No. 28 of 2005.
The same regulation adds that the amount of financial support must not be less than the cost of basic subsistence, in accordance with the husband's economic situation and place.
Prenuptial agreements in the UAE
There is no legal concept for prenuptial agreements in the UAE, but newlyweds can protect the wife's financial interests by signing a postnuptial agreement immediately after tying the knot.
What about during divorce?
Without initiating divorce proceedings, the wife may seek maintenance in the UAE court to cover her and the children's living expenses. Unless the couple owns everything together, the husband has no right to receive support from his wife.
Marriage contracts in civil marriages, performed in accordance with UAE Federal Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022 and Abu Dhabi Law No. 14 of 2021 on Civil Marriage and its Effects in Abu Dhabi, may include additional terms relating to financial maintenance, property, and other rights as the parties see fit.
In the absence of these factors, the UAE court may appoint an expert to determine the monetary award to the wife upon divorce.
Getting alimony in the UAE
In determining alimony, the UAE court and the legal expert will consider the husband's monthly income, the market value of his assets (including real estate, stocks, and shares), and the amount of money the couple has pooled together.
The judge can order the husband to make a lump sum payment or set up payment plans. While it is true that Abu Dhabi Law 14 of 2021, governing civil marriage and its effects in Abu Dhabi, served as a model for the federal government's Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has already released the Abu Dhabi Resolution no. 8 of 2022, which contains the necessary regulations for carrying out Abu Dhabi Law no. 14 of 2021.
What is a divorced wife entitled to as per Abu Dhabi law?
According to Abu Dhabi Resolution No. 8 of 2022, a former wife is entitled to certain percentage of her former husband's monthly income, and a share of his property and wealth, equal distribution of the couple's joint funds, housing support for herself and her children, spousal support, and child support.