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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

UAE family matters Q&As: can our children stand as witnesses in a custody battle?

A reader asks if her ex-husband is obliged to financially support their children and another asks if his children can stand witness in a custody battle

I have custody of my children who are now 15 and 18-years-old. My ex-husband is refusing to financially support our children, saying that they are older than the required age of 11 for boys and 13 for girls and I must bear the burden myself. Is that correct?

Under UAE Law, the maintenance and financial liability of the children rests with the father. This includes their living, food, housing, education and all their needs. If the mother retains custody of the child between the ages of 11 or 13 up to 21 years of age, the father shall be liable to pay child maintenance for that additional period of time, which could be up to 10 more years, without the complete information from the mother on where the money is spent. This means that your husband is still legally obligated, under the laws of the UAE to provide financially for his children, despite you retaining the custody. Girls should be maintained by the father until their marriage and boys till they reach an age where their peers are earning reasonable money to support themselves.

I want custody of one of my children as I think my wife will not be able to care for the child. I want to prove this in court by producing my other children as witnesses. Will that ensure the outcome goes my way?

Witnesses are accepted by the court as valid contributors of evidence. The witnesses testify to the reasons of the conflict between the parties. They can give as much of a detailed account of the relationship between the husband and wife as possible. This could include any instances of physical harm or abuse, verbal abuse, disrespect, the parenting skills of either party, and any account of expenses being paid or not paid by one party to the other. The parenting skills testimony is required by the court to evaluate the best interest of the child while addressing the question of custody. The witnesses are required to take their emirates ID or passport along and should be at least 21 years old. Family members can be witnesses as well, however, parents of the parties, and the children cannot. This rule goes back to the impartiality of witnesses since it is unlikely that parents can be impartial witnesses in their children’s matters. The courts do not allow the children of the couple to be produced as witnesses since they can by influenced and have a negative impact on them. Hence, you should try and support your claim through witnesses other than your children and your parents.

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

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.