The Federal Decree Law No. 41 of 2022 provides non-Muslim residents the option to follow the laws of their home country or select alternative personal status laws in effect in the UAE. The Federal Decree Law covers matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Personal Status Law for non-Muslims regulates personal status matters for non-Muslims in the emirate and provides a flexible and advanced judicial mechanism for the determination of personal status disputes.
‘Federal Decree Law No. 41 of 2022 on Civil Personal Status for Non-Muslims’ regulates family affairs of non-Muslim residents of the UAE. It also provides non-Muslim residents the option to follow the laws of their home country or select alternative personal status laws in effect in the UAE over the provisions of this Decree Law.
The Decree Law covers family matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody.
It sets out the requirements and procedures for getting married and registering the marriage with the competent courts. It outlines the procedures for divorce which can be initiated jointly or singly. It organises the procedures for settling the financial claims after divorce, and the arrangement of joint custody of the children. It organises the procedures for inheritance, wills and proofs of paternity. The Decree-Law took effect on 1 February 2023.
The Decree Law does not apply to Muslims, as ‘Sharia’ or Islamic laws govern family matters of Muslims.
The law consists of 20 Articles divided into several chapters covering civil marriage, divorce, joint custody of children and inheritance. The first chapter of the law regulates the marriage procedures of foreigners before the court by introducing the concept of civil marriage based on the will of both, the man and the woman.
The second chapter defines the divorce procedures for non-Muslims, the rights of the spouses after divorce and the discretion of the judge in assessing the financial rights of the wife based on several criteria, such as the number of years since marriage, the wife's age, the economic standing of each of the spouses and other considerations that the judge takes into account in determining the wife's financial rights.
The third chapter provides for the custody post the divorce which will be done in a way that will safeguard the family's cohesion after divorce and preserve the psychological health of the children.
The fourth chapter addresses inheritance issues, the registration of wills for non-Muslims, and the right of a foreigner to draw up a will to bequeath all his/her property to whomever he/she wishes.
The fifth chapter of the law regulates the proof of paternity for non-Muslim foreigners, by either marriage or recognition of paternity.
At least one of the parties must be a resident of Dubai
The age of the couple must be at least 21 years old
The couple or their legally authorised representatives must appear in person
Original IDs are required to prove their identity details
Proof of being single must be provided.
The documents must be submitted as soft copies in PDF format.
For documents in a language other than Arabic, certified Arabic translations, stamped by Ministry of Justice in the UAE are required.
Documents issued from outside the UAE, must also be duly certified by Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the country concerned, the UAE embassy in that country, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the UAE.