The UAE government set out new regulations on the country's divorce and family laws, effective from November 2020
8 November 2020| Last updated on 21 April 2021
Considering divorce in the UAE? Keep yourself up to date with the latest update about the UAE's divorce laws...
The UAE's legal system on underwent a reform in November 2020, introducing a raft of changes on family and personal laws, and this includes the laws related to divorce, separation, and division of assets and accounts after divorce.
Effective immediately, the developments were introduced in line with the UAE's goals to "consolidate the UAE’s principles of tolerance" and enhance the nation as a destination for business and investment for people around the world.
What the law says on getting a divorce in the UAE
According to the new regulations, couples who were married in their home country but file for a divorce in the UAE must follow the divorce laws of the country where the marriage took place.
Couples intending to separate will be able to follow their home country’s laws rather than the UAE legislation.
What the law says on division of assets after a marriage ends
The local court will be called on to mediate if there's no agreement on the division of joint assets and joint accounts between the two parties.
The legal reforms also cover inheritance and wills for expats in the UAE. Until now, family members of a deceased person may have their assets divided according to Sharia law, which most expats may not be used to.
In the new system, an expat's citizenship will determine how their assets are divided among their next of kin, unless there is a written will.
The only exception is for property owned and purchased in the UAE, which will be managed as per local law.
For a few years now in Dubai, non-Muslim expats could register their wills with the Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) wills and probate registry, which is linked to the UAE government, but not in Dubai's state-run civil courts.
Over at the capital, non-Muslim residents have been able to register a will in Abu Dhabi's Judicial Department since 2017.