With the swift changes in the personal laws of the UAE, the most momentous among them were the laws relating to Divorce and Inheritance. The personal Islamic laws of the UAE were rebuilt by the UAE government through an announcement made by them on 7th November, 2020. One line to characterize such changes is that, the Islamic law of the Sharia will no more be used for dealing with the cases belonging to family law for the non-citizens. The following article by Family Lawyers of Dubai highlights the recent changes in family laws within the country.
Amendment made in Divorce Law’s Jurisdiction:
The Amendments introduced are the ones changing the law of 1987, which provides that the local laws which were the first attempt to provide the legal framework to the personal laws will not be used for dealing with the ones who are not even the nationals of the country. Unlike the past status, now any couple can get divorce in UAE, not based on the Islamic law, rather based on the law of that country in which they were married.
Law of the Past
Earlier, the family law of UAE provided that Sharia will be applied on the muslim couples with respect to their child custody issues or asset division or for maintenance even.
Till the amendment came into force, the law allowed the expatriates to choose among the option of either applying Sharia to their divorce proceedings or to request the court to follow the law of their home country instead. In addition to this, in cases where both the partners belonged to a different country, then in that case, the law of the Husband’s country would have applied. But when the law of their home countries fizzle to bring justice to them or didn’t cover an aspect of divorce, in such cases, the courts brought the case back under the purview of the Sharia Law.
Now the couples will not have to feel dreadful from the prolonged and ponderous procedure of divorce. In the cases where there is an absence of agreement between the parties, the court can order them to undergo mediation for the same. Moreover, concepts like joint assets and accounts pose to be propitious for not just one but both the partners. The financial aftermath of both the parties can have a startling effect due to the switch in the applicability of the jurisdiction. Another upper hand which the new law enjoys is that it omits any further chance of filing yet another petition on the matter over whose law would apply. Though the division of assets will also be covered under the ambit of new jurisdiction, the custody of the child is nowhere mentioned in the scope of this new aspect.
In cases characterized as petulant, the descendants of the deceased had to face the division of the assets according to the Islamic Law. Most of them were not even acquainted with the same and had to face an unusual division between men and women.
In cases where the family was a non-resident and a non-Muslim, only in those cases one could petition the court for applying the law of their birth nation. But the Muslim Non Residents didn’t have such choice. They were covered under the Sharia only. Also, the Non-Muslim expatriates who did not request for any such change of jurisdiction had to undergo the Sharia Law of Inheritance only.
The amendment have now brought the change again in the jurisdiction of applying the law. This means that unlike the past, where the religion was the major basis, now the citizenship will be the characteristic around which, the whole inheritance will revolve. According to the new law, the inheritance will be practiced according to the citizenship of the deceased at the time of his death. In case a will is present, it will obviously be followed. But in cases where there is no will, the law of the country of the citizenship will be the sole factor to practice the law of Inheritance. An exceptional case states that where the deceased had bought a property in the UAE and has not bequeathed it under a will, then in that case, the law of Sharia will apply on the property.
There are two types of heir in the Sharia Law, i.e. the eligible and an ineligible heir. The eligible heir is not inclusive of adopted as well as illegitimate children. In addition to this a divorced wife is not entitled to her ex-husband’s property if they have been divorced for more than three months. Inheritance in Islam is famously regarded as a complicated process where a large share of property is always bagged by the mail heirs, posing a disadvantage for the female heirs. For example, a daughter is just entitled to half of what a son gets.
The procedure of Divorce for the expatriates have substantially changed and purports to be a worthwhile amendment. The intend behind the same was to promote the living standards of its people. The amendment is also looked forward to as a way out from the disputed cases of the non residents, which will be governed without further jurisdictional petitions. This will not only save the parties to the dispute from getting assaulted economically but also from the breakdown one faces emotionally.