Huge updates to marriage laws
The new Federal Personal Status Law allows non-Muslim couples to marry in a non-Sharia legal process. Since February 2022, non-Muslim couples in Abu Dhabi have been able to tie the knot in the civil court, in a similar way to a registry office wedding in the UK or Europe. From February 2023 this will become a UAE-wide law.
As per the new decree, either spouse will now be able to ask to the court to end the marriage, without proving a party as at fault, or justify the need to end the marriage. Divorces may be granted after one hearing, and it won’t be required to go through family guidance counselling, nor meditation sessions that were previously required.
If a divorcing couple has children, joint and equal custody of the children will automatically be granted until the children are 18 years old. Where there are custody disputes, the court can take further action and involvement, with consideration always given to the child or children’s best interests. If witness testimony is required, a woman’s testimony to be equal of that of a man.
The new law will allow non-Muslims to register wills at the same time as their marriage certificate, which will allow them to give their property to whoever they wish.