Gulf News 24 May 2015


Asset division in case of divorce

Divorce proceedings and asset division are highly dependent on many factors, including religion, nationality

PUBLISHED: 18:00 MAY 23, 2015Gulf News

Dubai: For expatriate non-Muslim couples getting a divorce, there are no clear-cut rules because of varying reasons, including religion and the nationality of the divorcing parties. Also, it all depends on where the couple wants to hold the divorce proceedings.

If held here, Dubai Court will automatically apply Sharia but the couple may petition the judge to use their country’s Family Code, Attorney Barney Almazar, a licensed UAE legal consultant and partner at Gulf Law, told Gulf News. If the country of origin’s family laws do not fully cover the issues at hand, Dubai court has the prerogative to use Sharia.

Before a divorce proceeding is held, all couples are asked to register a case at the Moral and Family Guidance Section at Dubai Courts. A counsellor will meet the couple to give them a chance to reconcile their differences and resolve the problems. But if the couple insists on divorce, the papers will be forwarded to court.

Almazar cautioned both parties to keep an audit of all their assets in mind before applying for divorce. “Once the divorce is granted, the settlement of properties is included. So, both sides should bring it up during the proceedings. So, as a consequence of the divorce, the properties have to be divided between the two of you.”

1) Your divorce lawyer will guide you on what you need to file for divorce which usually are both parties’ passports and visa (originals and copies), Emirates ID (originals and copies), marriage certificate (originals and copies) attested by the UAE embassy in the country where marriage was solemnised and certificate was issued, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of same, and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Note that all documents in English should be translated into Arabic by a legal translator for it to be admissible in court.

2) If both sides agree on the division of the assets the case will progress with ease. But if there are issues regarding the division, the court will order appointment of an accounting expert.

3) Submit the documentary evidence or proof of ownership of your assets, in other cases, salary certificate, employment contract, to the accounting expert to prove the total worth of your properties.

4) The assets will be divided according to the judge’s call based on whichever law is used.

“In divorce cases where both husband and wife are in agreement, the case usually takes about two months. But if there are many issues such as child custody, properties, etc, it may take six months. Plus, if one party disagrees with the decision, he or she may still appeal the court decision,” Almazar said.

More than 12,000 couples in the UAE filed for divorce between 2011 and 2013, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

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