Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Family matters Q&As: does a mother lose custody of her son when he turns 11?

A mother asks if she will lose custody of her son and another reader asks if UAE courts have jurisdiction over his wife's Khula case if she is not a resident

I am a divorced mother and I have the custody of my 10-year-old son. Will I lose custody of him once he turns 11? Is it mandatory for me to file a case in court to continue the custody of my son until he is an adult?

Article 156 of the UAE Personal Status Law states that a mother shall have the custody of her son until he is 11 years old and her daughter until she turns 13. Once the children reach this age, the mother does not automatically lose custody of them. The guardian, who is typically the father, would have to file a case in court to remove custody from the mother. The mother has the right to object to the guardian’s claim and the court has discretion to accept or reject the custody claim in the best interest of the child.

My wife and I have a lot of misunderstandings and differences. As a result, she has decided to file for Khula from me. I live and work in Abu Dhabi but she is not a resident of the UAE nor is she currently in the Emirates. Can she still apply for Khula in Abu Dhabi courts while on a visit visa?

Khula is a procedure through which a woman can divorce her husband. It is different to a regular divorce in that the wife must return her mahr - or dower - and anything else she received from her husband as part of the settlement.

As per Article 5 of the UAE Personal Status Law, the UAE courts do have jurisdiction if the defendant is a resident of the UAE. Since you are a resident of Abu Dhabi, the Personal Status Court in Abu Dhabi will have jurisdiction in this matter and therefore she can apply for a Khula from you on a visit visa.

My husband has submitted a divorce application with Family Guidance Department in Abu Dhabi and he received a first hearing date, which is due in the next few days. I understand that he and his family had prepared for this application at least one month before registering the case. I am totally surprised as I did not anticipate this case and thus, I am not prepared to face the hearing. Can I request that the hearing be postponed?

You must attend the first hearing at the Family Guidance Department. This Department is located within the premises of the Personal Status Court. Trained counsellors work to resolve marital disputes amicably.

The first hearing is only a preliminary hearing to better understand the dispute and plan the further process. You can request from the counsellor to schedule the second hearing at a later date to prepare yourself.

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

Updated: September 7, 2019 06:26 PM

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