A tale of two cities: London or Dubai for divorce

In making life altering decisions such as divorce or separation, it is imperative to make an informed choice, armed with the pros and cons you could face in all eventualities.

When a relationship breaks down, the situation you can find yourself in can be isolating and the decision-making process as to what next steps to take can be made a tad easier by having your choices explained to you in a concise and effective manner.

We at TWS Legal Consultants have been assisting expatriates settled in Dubai with their divorces, whether they choose to bring the marriage to an end in Dubai or they choose to issue divorce proceedings in the UK courts.

Whilst there are some similarities between the processes, on the whole the procedures differ due to the nature of the contrasting laws applicable in the two countries. In Dubai Sharia law would automatically apply which reflects the local culture and tradition of the United Arab Emirates. However, expatriate couples have the option of opting out of Sharia law governing their case and can choose to have the law of the country from which the husband and wife are nationals applied in their divorce case in the UAE.

Both jurisdictions encourage reaching an amicable settlement and both have the best interests of the children at the forefront of their considerations.

Procedurally there are differences, in that if in agreement with regards to financial settlement and arrangements regarding children of the family, a couple will not be required to attend court in the UK for the duration of the divorce process.

In Dubai, even if agreement has been reached between the parties concerning financial settlement and arrangements regarding the children, at the very least the couple will have to attend court with their instructed lawyers once during the process.

Matters are complicated when agreement cannot be reached between the parties in either jurisdiction. When this is the case, lawyers on both sides will assist in mediating and if unsuccessful the matter will be determined at court by a judge having sight of all the facts and circumstances relevant to the case. This can increase the time frame of the case not to mention the costs involved.

Under Sharia law in the UAE, each party to the marriage would retain their individually owned assets. By contrast, in the UK courts consideration is given to a variety of factors when deciding an ancillary (financial) relief application made by a spouse, including but not limited to the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, each parties’ ability to earn post-divorce and the age of any children of the marriage. As such the UK courts are not averse to dividing and redistributing assets which a spouse may not be entitled to under Sharia law.

Whilst precedents are useful to apply to similar cases in ascertaining the outcome and costs, each case is decided on its own facts and specialist and tailored advice should be sought in relation to your own individual circumstances.

At TWS we are happy to assist with any queries you may have with regards to the above and look forward to hearing from you.Please contact one of our experienced family lawyers today for more details. Email us at info@twslegal.ae or call +971 4 448 4284.

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