On October 3, 2022, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, may God protect him, issued Federal Decree Law No. (41) of 2022 regarding Civil Personal Status, and below, we, the office of Bin Meshar & Associates, are pleased to extend the summary of our extrapolation for such law (Law)
Aspects and Features of the Law
- This Law is considered the first federal law issued independently and separately from the relevant legislation and rules that included some of the Country’s general laws governing personal status issues for non-Muslims residing in the United Arab Emirates, as it regulates the generality of those personal matters in relation to those individuals. The Law guaranteed in its provisions to meet their special needs regarding issues of their personal status, which included marriage, divorce, custody of children, wills, inheritance, and proof of parentage, and it began to regulate the relationship between spouses within the category addressed by the law, and then addressed the problems and issues that arise between them. During the establishment of the marriage and following its dissolution, it sets solutions and rules governing each of the above personal status issues. The Law also provided them with a flexible and effective judicial mechanism with regard to these concerns and court disputes that may emerge in their regard, by simplifying the required procedures and demands linked to them by providing ready-made forms
- In terms of executing its rules, the Law has equalised men and women in terms of testimony, inheritance, custody, and the ability to petition for divorce for the category of non-Muslims resident in the State.
Scope of Law Application
- Article (1/1) of the Law states that it applies to non-Muslim citizens of the United Arab Emirates and non-Muslim foreigners residing in the country, unless one of them adheres to the application of his own law regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance, wills, and proof of paternity, without prejudice to the terms of Articles (12), (13), (15), (16) and (17) of the Civil Transactions Law No. (5) of 1985.
- Paragraph (2) of the aforementioned article authorised the addressees to agree to adopt other legislation controlling the family or personal status in effect in the Nation in lieu of this Law.
- In addition, Article 15 of the Law clarified the applicability of the laws and statutes in effect in the Nation with regard to topics not explicitly addressed in this Law.
- In line with Article (16) of the Law, the Council of Ministers will also establish Implementing Regulations for this Law.
- Article 18 of the bill specifies that it will go into force on February 1, 2023.
Key Provisions and Articles of the Law
The Law is consisting of seven pages which include 18 Articles organised into five sections. We, Bin Mes’har & Co discuss the following provisions that are most significant:
Equality Among Men and Women
Article 4 of the Law equalised the rights and responsibilities of men and women in the application of the law, and the preceding article established the application of this equality in particular to the following areas:
- Testimony: Equality in testimony before the court, and the testimony of a woman before the court is treated equally to that of a male.
- Inheritance: According to the requirements of the Law, men and women are treated equally when distributing an inheritance.
- The right to divorce: Both the husband and wife, acting on their own unilateral will, may apply to the court for divorce decree without prejudice to their divorce-related rights.
- Child Custody: Women and men retain shared custody of the child until they reach the age of (18), after which the child is free to make his own choice.
We, the office of Bin Meshar & Co consider that the segment covered by this Law is now regulated by rules in this special law that differ from the legal rules structured in the relevant applicable general laws pertaining to the above generality.
Civil Marriage and its Procedures
- Article 5 of the Law stipulates that in order for a civil marriage to take place, both the husband and wife must be at least 21 years of age and the marriage cannot take place between siblings, children, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, or any other instances defined by the Implementing Regulations. In addition, both parties must expressly consent to the marriage in front of the documentations judge, sign the disclosure form, and comply with any other criteria stated by the Law’s Implementing Regulations.
- Article 6 of the Law clarifies, within its provisions, that civil marriage occurs when the spouses fill out the form prepared for that purpose in front of the documentations judge, and that the spouses have the right to agree on the terms of the contract, as well as the rights of the husband and wife during the marriage period and rights post-divorce, and in particular shared custody of children, with the duty of the spouses to declare any past marriages of either of them, the date of the divorce, and an acknowledgment that there is no current marital relationship.
Divorce (by individual will) and its Procedures
- Article 7 of the Law provides that in order to request a divorce decree, one of the spouses needs only to demonstrate to the court his wish to separate and not continue the marriage, without the need to justify this, explain the damage, or assign responsibility to the other spouse.
- Article (8) of the Law permits either spouse to file according to the prepared form, a divorce request without having to demonstrate harm, and the divorce is granted by a court judgement once the other party has been notified.
Alimony for the Divorced
- In accordance with Article (9) of the Law, a divorced woman may submit a request to the court after the issuance of the divorce decree to obtain a ruling on alimony for her divorced husband, and in the event of a dispute over the conditions or controls of this alimony or financial requests, the judge shall decide on the request according to his discretionary power post assessment of the eight factors stated in this Article which include years of the marriage, where alimony amount shall increase according to number of years of the marriage, and the age of the wife, where the alimony amount shall decrease according to the low age of the wife and vice versa, the financial status of both of the spouses, to what extend the husband has contributed in the cause which led to the divorce and whether or not the wife takes care of the children.
- In accordance with the terms of this article’s conclusion, the wife’s alimony is forfeited if she marries another man or if her custody of the children is terminated for any reason.
Custody of Children – Joint Custody
- Article (10) of the Law stipulates that the concept of custody of children is the involvement of the father and mother jointly in the duty of raising the children, and that custody of the children is a joint and equal right of the father and mother following a divorce, and it is also the right of the children in not letting one of the parents without the other to take over of raising and seeing them.
- Further, the aforementioned Article stated that, in the event that the father and mother disagree on any aspect of joint custody, either parent has the right to submit a request to the court using the appropriate form to object or request the court’s intervention to resolve the dispute, and the court has the discretion to determine what is in the best interest of the cuddled child.
Legacies and Wills – Distribution of Inheritance
- Article (11/1) of the Law specifies that the testator has the right to leave by a will all of his money in the State to whoever he chooses, subject to the limits outlined in the law’s Implementing Regulations.
- According to paragraph (2) of the aforementioned article, in the absence of a will, half of the estate goes to the husband or wife, and the other half is split equally among the children, regardless of gender; if the dead had no children, the estate goes to His parents on equal or half of it devolves to one of them in the absence of the other and the other half devolves to his brothers, or the entire inheritance devolves to one of the parents in the absence of the other parent and absence of the husband, sons, or brothers of the inheritor. In the absence of the testator’s parents, the full estate is distributed among siblings without distinction between male and female.
- Paragraph (3) of the above-mentioned Article of the Law stipulates that as an exception to the provisions of clause (2) of this Article, any of the foreigners’ heirs may request the application of the law applicable to the estate in accordance with the provisions stipulated in the Civil Transactions Law, unless there are a registered will to the contrary.
Proof of Paternity – Paternity of a New-born
Regarding establishing the new-born’s paternity, Article 14 of the Law stipulated the following:
- The paternity of the child is proven by marriage or by acknowledging the father and mother, and a birth certificate is issued in line with the applicable laws.
- The court may request a DNA test to be undertaken in line with the applicable laws, and it must verify the following before issuing an order establishing paternity for the claimant: A – The child is of unknown parentage. B- That the age difference accepts attributing the child to whom he claimed to be attributable.
- On the recommendation of the Minister of Justice, the Council of Ministers may issue a resolution regulating the methods and provisions of adoption and alternative families, as well as their consequences.
This was our brief extrapolation of the articles of the Federal Decree No. 41 of 2022 regarding the new Civil personal Status Law, and we, the office of Bin Mes’har & Co Advocates and Legal Consultants, were eager to share this significant information with all segments of society in order to disseminate the legal culture and prevent the circulation of misinterpretations about what was included in this Decree-Law.