Matrimonial Proceedings – UK or Dubai Court?

When a couple decide to divorce the issue can be further complicated when you are residing in a foreign country where you are not aware of the local laws and procedures.

The laws governing divorce in the UAE are different and can become complicated if there are children and assets involved.

Nita Maru, Managing Partner at TWS Legal Consultants looks at some frequently asked questions by people who are thinking of getting divorced.

Where can I divorce and which law prevails?

When choosing jurisdiction, it is very important to seek legal advice from the outset, as the jurisdiction in which you decide to divorce in can have a huge impact on your financial settlement, maintenance and custody of children going forward.

One of the first matters a divorce lawyer must consider in cases involving international couples is which jurisdiction would be the most advantageous for financial proceedings.  In the UK, the court retains jurisdiction to make financial orders after the pronouncement of an overseas divorce under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984. Therefore, the dissolution of the marriage overseas does not necessarily result in a bar to financial proceedings taking place in England and Wales.

If you and/or your spouse have sufficient connection to the UK, you can divorce there, regardless of the fact you got married in or currently reside in the UAE.  

For British expatriates, instructing a British qualified family lawyer in Dubai provides the added advantage of not having to instruct a UK-based lawyer if you and your spouse agree to divorce under English law.  This will save time and will be more cost-effective by negating the need to travel to the UK if the matter does proceed to court despite the best efforts to avoid litigation.

For over a decade we have been assisting expatriates with their divorces through the Dubai Court whether it’s preparing an amicable settlement agreement or with issuing divorce proceedings in the UK courts.

How do I initiate proceedings in Dubai?

Once proper legal advice is sought, either party can open a file to divorce at the court stipulating their decision to dissolve the marriage.

This is followed by a meeting with a conciliator at the court to ascertain if an amicable settlement agreement can be reached or not between the parties. This is mandatory for divorce proceedings in the UAE.

If a resolution cannot be reached then the matter proceeds before the courts to conclude the divorce.

Is the divorce process very long in Dubai?

A divorce can be concluded in approximately three months if both parties are able to reach an amicable settlement agreement with regards to finances and arrangements for children.

If there are disputes regarding financial settlements and children, for example, then the proceedings would take longer to conclude.

As a Guardian can I visit my children?

Following a divorce, a guardian can make an application to the court so that he (usually the father) can obtain visitation rights to visit his children.

The guardian is entitled to visit his children regularly.

Therefore the mother as custodian of the children cannot permanently move to another country in order to deliberately prevent such contact by the father.

Should you wish to seek legal guidance with regards to a family/divorce matter through the Dubai Court or the UK, please feel free to contact one of our family lawyers at TWS Legal ConsultantsEmail us at or call +971 4 448 4284.

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