Legal Consultant Dr. Hassan Elhais explains what are the procedures in claiming marital rights of the wife during divorce
3 April 2023| Last updated on 4 April 2023
What are 'marital rights'?
Marital rights of a woman refer to those entitlements that a wife can have over her husband, as a result of their marriage. Some of these rights can be exercised during the married life, while some can be claimed only after the spouses proceed for divorce.
What can a wife claim from her husband as per her marital rights after divorce?
Broadly speaking, a wife can claim alimony and child support from her husband. Alimony is basically the expenditure of the wife, including housing, food, medical services etc. If the spouses have had children, the wife can also claim expenses that would be required to raise the child.
Which laws govern marital rights of women after divorce in the UAE?
Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 governs the marital rights for women in the UAE. It is a comprehensive legislation which defines the rights and duties of spouses towards each other, and lays down reliefs in case of circumventions.
A new law has also been introduced, namely Federal Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022, which applies to non-Muslim citizens and foreigners in the country. According to the new law, non-Muslims in the UAE can choose to apply the provisions of the law itself, or to apply the laws of their home country.
As a woman living in the UAE, what are the rights that I can exercise after divorce from my husband as per the UAE law?
Following the provisions of the Personal Status Law of 2005, a woman is required to pass a waiting period of about 3 months, during which she is entitled to financial support from her husband. However, once the waiting period is over, the woman will not be entitled to support anymore. The amount of financial support is determined according to the income of the husband.
The wife can also claim amounts that were due but not paid by the husband as reimbursement of backdated expenses for the past three years as per Article 67 of the Law.
If the case is still pending, i.e. if the divorce is not finalized, the judge may order that the husband pay a temporary amount to the wife, as stipulated by Article 68 of the Law. This amount is nominal, but the wife can request the judge to increase it.
In case the spouses have children, the expenses of the children shall be borne by the father at all times. A father or husband cannot claim maintenance from his children or wife after divorce. In case the husband does not pay, the wife can approach the court for enforcement of payments. If the husband is unable to pay or is insolvent, it is at the judge’s discretion whether or not to order attachment of assets.
Also, Article 140 states that if a husband unilaterally divorces his wife from a valid, consummated marriage, without a request from the wife, then the wife in such cases is entitled to claim compensation of an amount of up to one year.
What are the marital rights of women after divorce as per the new UAE law?
Under the new law, a woman can claim alimony through a post-divorce application, once a judgement for the divorce has been issued. While assessing the application, the court may take into account several factors, such as duration of the marriage, age of the wife, financial conditions of the spouses, financial or moral damage to either party etc.
The spouses are given joint custody of children under the new law, unless of course one of them objects to it. The father is responsible for the expenses of the children for a temporary period of up to 2 years.
The alimony will be forfeited if the woman remarries another man.
Is there a specific law for division of properties between the spouses after divorce?
In the UAE, there is no specific law for the allocation of properties following a divorce. Usually, the spouses would agree on terms that are mutually beneficial, but this is not the case always.
Nevertheless, if both the spouses are Muslims living in the UAE, then the Personal Status Law of 2005 will be applied for the divorce, and for subsequent claims.
If the marriage is concluded outside the UAE, the laws of that country will govern the financial and personal impacts, like divorce, repudiation etc.
Am I allowed to exclusively handle the assets solely under my name, after my divorce?
Under Article 62(1) of the Personal Status Law of 2005, a wife who has reached the age of full capacity is free to dispose of her property, whereas the husband cannot dispose of the property without the consent of the wife.
What happens to properties which are jointly owned by both the parties?
The general governing rule is that the title controls the assets.
The exception to this rule is provided under Article 62/1 of the UAE Personal Status Law, which states: “A woman has reached the age of full capacity is free to dispose of her property and the husband may not, without her consent, dispose thereof; each one of them has independent financial assets. If one of the two participates with the other in the development of a property, building a dwelling place or the like, he may claim from the latter his share therein upon divorce or death.”
However, this could be replied to by Article 649/A of the UAE Civil Transactions Law, which states that “If the gift is made by one spouse to the other or a cognate to a degree precluding marriage unless the gift may unjustifiably result is discriminatory preference between them”. The final decision may be subject to the court’s discretionary power.
Can the courts decide on properties located outside the UAE?
The UAE courts will only pronounce decisions with respect to the properties present within the country.