Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 September 2020

Family matters Q&As: can I divorce my husband for taking a second wife?

A reader asks if disputes over a postnuptial agreement made in the UAE can be handled by an English-speaking international arbitration forum instead of local Arabic courts

I married a Muslim man and accepted Islam. We live in Dubai with our two children. Recently, my husband has started living with another woman he claims to be his wife. Sometimes, he brings her to our house as well. After seeing my husband’s actions, I have decided to divorce him as he is not setting a good example for my children. However, he is threatening that he will not provide any support to my children. What can I do?

According to Islamic law, a Muslim man may have four wives at any given time. However, he must provide equal treatment to all of them. If you feel that you have sustained harm as a result of his unfair treatment, you may seek divorce on the grounds of prejudice. Furthermore, Article 78/1 of the UAE Personal Status Law provides that the father is obliged to provide maintenance to the children until his son completes his education or his daughter is married. Accordingly, you may also claim maintenance support from the father of your children in your divorce case.

My husband and I have decided to enter into a Postnuptial Agreement to govern our independent finances, assets and expenses. We are hopeful that the terms of the Agreement would be honoured by both of us. However, neither of us wants to move to the court immediately if a dispute arises between us as a result of this Agreement. We are expatriates and we do not understand Arabic. Can we refer any disputes regarding to our Postnuptial Agreement to an English-speaking international arbitration forum instead of the local Arabic courts?

As per Article 53/2/b of the UAE Arbitration Law, the court shall have the discretion to nullify the arbitral award if it is in conflict with public policy. Article 3 of the UAE Civil Transactions law provides that provisions relating to personal status, such as marriage, inheritance and lineage shall be considered as public policy. Accordingly, disputes pertaining to family matters are not arbitrable and thus the local courts, having the valid jurisdiction, are the correct forum to maintain the disputes.

If you have a question for our legal consultant, email media@professionallawyer.me with the subject line “Family Matters”.

Updated: May 23, 2020 01:44 PM

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