Know more about how divorce and mediation work in the UAE
Posted: Aug 29, 2021
Divorce process in the UAE allows for meditation steps before proceeding with litigation. The UAE Court system, in fact, requires meditation as an essential and mandatory procedure that the parties must complete prior to registering a court case.
Article 1(2) of the Federal Law number 28 of 2005 on 'Personal status' states that, "The provisions of this Law shall apply to citizens of the United Arab Emirates State unless non-Muslims among them have special provisions applicable to their community or confession. They shall equally apply to non-citizens unless one of them asks for the application of his Law.
The first step in the mediation process in family matters is to register the case with the 'Family Guidance Section' at the family courts of the respective emirate. Either of the parties can initiate the case, and it must be filed in the court that has the jurisdiction over the matter as per their place of residence.
Once the case is registered, a court-appointed counsellor contacts both the parties and hears from them their issues and concerns. The family guidance counsellor is neutral and unbiased whose role is to guide both parties towards a possible amicable resolution of their dispute.
If the parties are willing to resolve their dispute amicably, whether it concerns divorce, or child custody or maintenance, the parties may then proceed to enter into a written settlement agreement. The parties should be cautious and should take proper legal advice and guidance before entering into a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement in a family matter covers a variety of rights, including but not limited to terms of the divorce, child custody, maintenance, visitation, relocation, financials etc. and therefore, it is critical to obtain the right legal guidance before entering into a binding settlement agreement.
On the other hand, if either of the parties does not provide their consent for an amicable resolution, then the mediation will be concluded, and the Counsellor proceeds to provide the claimant with a 'no objection letter' ("NOC") allowing the claimant to proceed to file the case before the courts. Such referral letter requires that the litigation proceed to be initiated within a period of two months from the date of obtaining the NOC. If the claimant does not proceed with the litigation steps within the stipulated time period as provided in the NOC then, it is likely that the parties would need to repeat the mediation steps once again, leading to more delays.
Contested divorce proceedings often involve complex questions of Law, including choice of Law. Often parties pursuing contested divorce deal with complex underlying issues such as domestic violence, abuse, abandonment, adultery and child custody disputes etc.
It is critical to obtain the right legal guidance in all stages of your proceedings before the UAE courts. Always consult lawyers who specialize in family matters as they are well experienced in handling even the most complex of cases.
Dr. Hassan Elhais is a legal consultant in Dubai, specializing in the drafting of all statements of claim, memos and consultation on litigation of all manner.