Custodial Rights of Children in the UAE

When custody disputes arise between parents non-UAE nationals resident in the UAE, whether married to a UAE or non-UAE citizen, may file custody cases in the UAE.

The applicable law in relation to the children matters in the UAE is Federal Law No. 28 of the year 2005 regarding the Personal Statuses Law (articles 142-158).

According to the above mentioned law the custody is determined by the court in the best interest of the child.

To be deemed as a fit custodian, a person should fulfill a list of requirements:

– Mental stability;

– Being honest;

– To reach the age 21;

– Ability to take care of a child;

– To be clean from an infectious disease;

– Must not have been committed a serious crime.

Certain legal norms specify that Custodian:

– must be of the same religion as the child

– the mother should not re-marry;

– the father should have a family relation with a child and be able to take care of a child involving a female.

The custody ends when a boy turns 11 and a girl turns 13, unless the court decides for the child’s interest to extend this period till the baby boy comes of age of discretion, or the female child gets married. The courts in the UAE primarily look at the betterment of the kids when making such decisions.

Most often the mother is awarded custody of children. If the court finds the mother “incompetent,” custody of a child can be given to the father; if not – to the child’s maternal grandmother; if not – to the mothers sister; if not – to the fathers sister; if not – to the sisters daughter on the mothers side, etc.

The custodian is concerned with the child’s day to day life. The custodian has actual physical custody of the child on a day to day basis, and must raise and take care of the child.

On the other hand, a guardian is a person who financially maintains the child, makes important decisions about the education and upbringing, and generally takes care of the child’s affairs.

During the trial, child custody belongs to the mother.

After the final divorce, the mother may move with the child to another city within the country unless such movement affects the child’s education or causes harm to the father or makes him suffer unusual hardship or costs for visiting the child.

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