New marriage, divorce law in Abu Dhabi lets tourists tie the knot

The service is only provided by the Capital and available exclusively in the region

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Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Sun 6 Feb 2022, 12:20 PM

Last updated: Sun 6 Feb 2022, 10:46 PM

A new law in Abu Dhabi will allow tourists and individuals residing outside the Emirate to get married.

The service is only provided by Abu Dhabi and available exclusively in the region. The new law, which governs family matters for expats or foreigners and offers tourists a chance to finalise civil marriage contracts, has been approved and will be implemented.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), on Sunday issued decision No. 8 of 2022 approving the regulations for the implementation of the Civil Marriage and Divorce Law No. 14 of 2020 in Abu Dhabi.

The law regulates family matters for foreigners, including civil marriage, divorce, joint child custody and financial rights.

Youssef Saeed Al Abri, Undersecretary of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, said the regulations encompass all the details pertaining to the organisation of legal proceedings under the Civil Marriage and Divorce Law in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, a law that introduces a modern and advanced concept of civil family law for foreigners in line with international best practices.

The regulations consist of 52 articles dealing with the jurisdiction of the Civil Family Court, which has been established in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, to decide on claims and disputes related to civil marriage and its effects, such as civil divorce, joint custody of children, financial rights arising out of divorce, wills, civil inheritance, proof of parentage, adoption and other foreign nationals' personal status issues.

The law introduces the concept of civil marriages based on the will of both the husband and wife. This means no consent from the woman’s family will be required.

The law also gives spouses the right to divorce without the need to prove harm was done in the marriage and divorce can be applied by either of the spouses. Previously, if harm was not proven to the court, divorce would not be granted.

According to the law, divorce among expat couples can now be granted at the first hearing without the need to go to the family guidance department and couples separating will no longer be required to go through mandatory reconciliation sessions.

Alimony or financial rights of the wife will be based on several criteria, such as the number of years of marriage, the age of the wife, the economic standing of each of the spouses and other considerations.

Under the law, custody of children will be equally shared between the parents so as to preserve the psychological health of the child and reduce the effects of the divorce on the child.


The law also addresses inheritance issues, where the registration of wills for non-Muslims, and the right of an expat to draw up a will devolving all his/her property to whomever he/she wishes.

The law also regulates the proof of paternity for expats, providing that the proof of paternity of the newborn child is based on marriage or recognition of paternity.

The sixth chapter of the law addresses appeal proceedings against judgements and enforcement proceedings, as the judgement rendered by the court is final and enforceable at once following its issuance if the amount adjudicated is less than Dh500,000, in cases of alimony and post-divorce financial rights proceedings.

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