Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

UAE family matters Q&A: does saying 'talaq' three times constitute divorce?

A reader asks how to stop her ex-husband from taking their child to Europe and another asks if her husband saying 'talaq' thrice constitutes divorce

I am a Muslim woman and married a Muslim man. During one of our arguments, he pronounced "talaq" ("I divorce you" in Arabic) on me. He has since left the family home and I cannot find him or get in touch with him. Am I divorced now?

There are two methods of divorce:

1. For the Muslim husband, the first is by pronouncing the “talaq” (“I divorce you” in Arabic). The husband or wife (if she has isma) must say or write “I divorce you” or talaq in the presence of a witness. For Muslims, this is a religiously valid method of divorce. However, for the divorce to be legally recognised, it should be registered with the court – this allows documentary evidence of the divorce to be relied upon in court in the future. (Article 106 Personal Status Law states “divorce is considered valid when … the judge authenticates it”.) If there is a dispute as to whether the talaq was pronounced, the witness would be able to give evidence in court. There are financial implications for a spouse who commences a divorce by pronouncing the talaq without the consent of their spouse.

2. The second method, for Muslims with a non-Muslim wife or non-Muslim husband, obtaining a divorce is by application to court (“separation by way of a judgment”). The applicant will issue a divorce case and the parties will be referred to the Family Guidance Committee, which forms part of the court. Later, if they fail to settle, they will issue a no-objection letter to file a family case or a personal status case.

My husband and I just finalised our divorce in Dubai Courts. He called me from the airport and told me he was taking our son back with him to a European country. What should I do? I live and work in Dubai.

In such cases, if you have time, you can request an urgent court order and apply a travel ban on the child and / or take the child back.

In the event of parental abduction, you have the following options:

  1. File for the custody of the child
  2. File a criminal case of abduction against your husband
  3. Apply through the Interpol

The law sets out that this circumstance can change if the court determines something else is best for the child. A recent case concerning child custody reached the Supreme Court of Abu Dhabi. In this case the child, a young girl of 13 years of age, who lived with her mother, the custodian, was to be returned to the guardian, her father, in accordance with Article 156, mentioned above. After months of trials, hearings, and appeals, the Supreme Court of Abu Dhabi did not grant the father custodianship. Though this goes against Article 156, the court found it would be in the best interests of the young girl to stay with her mother until she is married. It is clear that legally and practically speaking, the goal is the same – custody is awarded to the parent that best fits the needs of the child’s best interests.

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

Updated: October 4, 2018 11:12 AM