UAE: Over 1,000 marriages registered in Abu Dhabi Expat court under new law

Court also receives 50 divorce applications, 20 civil inheritance cases and 250 applications for civil will attestation in five months


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Thu 2 Jun 2022, 1:28 PM

Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) had registered more than 1,000 civil marriage applications before the Expat Family Court in less than five months since the Abu Dhabi Civil Marriage Law 12-2021 came into force in January this year.

The court has also received 50 no-fault divorce applications, 20 civil inheritance cases, and 250 applications for civil will attestation.

The law, which governs family matters for expats or foreigners, also offers tourists a chance to finalise civil marriage contracts in Abu Dhabi.

Youssef Saeed Al Abri, Under-Secretary of ADJD, said that reaching 1,000 civil marriage registrants in less than five months is a major step forward in providing people who live and invest in the UAE with the freedom to apply liberal rules when it comes to their family affairs.

He added that 20 per cent of the marriage applicants are tourists who specially flew to Abu Dhabi to benefit from the exclusive civil marriage service, which is only available in the Capital. Over 120 nationalities applied to the civil marriage service.

Al Abri said that the success of the new English Speaking ex-pat family court reflects the pioneering status of Abu Dhabi as a world-class jurisdiction, in line with the vision of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of ADJD, to provide expats with access to one of the most modern and advanced family court in the world.

Abu Dhabi Family Courts for expats has become the premier family hub in the Middle East as its the only jurisdiction in the region to apply civil and secular rules to regulate family affairs, and it stands out not only in terms of the modern applicable laws, but also as it offers digital and bilingual court procedures, with all court documents and procedures fully available in English, Al Abri stated.

Divorce cases

The court statistics show that 50 cases of no-fault civil divorce applications have been filed by foreigners and non-Muslims residing in Abu Dhabi under the new law.

The no-fault divorce judgement is issued in one court session within 30 days from filing the case, without the need to submit the case to the Family Guidance, and it includes by default the joint custody of the kids.

The court automatically grants joint custody of the children to both parents, based on the children's best interests.


Inheritance cases

Court Statistics also show that 20 cases of civil inheritance for foreigners have been registered since January, thanks to the simple mechanism introduced by the new law, which provides the distribution of the estate of foreigners residing in Abu Dhabi by granting the wife 50 per cent of her deceased husband's assets, and dividing the remaining 50 per cent among the children in equal shares, regardless of gender.

It only takes 30 days for the court to issue its decision on the distribution of the estate, and the whole procedure is available in English and Arabic.

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