In principle, the Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 (the Personal Status Law) frames the provision in terms of marriage, divorce and succession. The Courts apply the principles of Sharia Law in the UAE as the primary legislation in terms of family law disputes.

While UAE being a multicultural society with nationalities across the world, the application of Sharia law to each national can be quite confusing and unacceptable. Article 1 of the Personal Status Law allows for the non- Emiratis to choose their own home country’s law for the family law disputes. The Personal Status Law also governs the matrimonial areas such as child custody, guardianship and maintenance.

The first step in the process of a divorce in the UAE commences with the reconciliation or conciliation process. The divorce reconciliation in Dubai, UAE is held at the Family Guidance department in the Dubai Court Complex, the adjudicator for the conciliation process will primarily try to reach an amicable settlement between the spouses. The process is mandatory and if the parties do not arrive at a settlement then the case is referred to the judge of the Family Court.

Secondly, the case will move to the Court of First Instance, spouses can retain a lawyer for the case and the proceedings shall be in Arabic Language. During the process both parties will be having the opportunity to submit their memorandum explaining their side of the case and time given by the court for the submission of counter- reply. Evidence will also be acceptable to strengthen each side of the case.

The parties can also challenge the decision of the First Court in the Appeal Court and should there be any legality involved in the Appeal Judgement, the parties can reach to the Court of Cassation for issues related to Law.

However, in a progressive and groundbreaking move, the United Arab Emirates introduced Federal Decree Law No. 41 of 2022 on Civil Personal Status. This law brings transformative changes to the divorce landscape for non-Muslims in the UAE. Notably, it introduces the concept of “no-fault divorce”, a game changer, and the concept of joint custody putting the child’s interests first, and champions equality in divorce procedures, such as testimony, estate distribution matters and the right to divorce, ensuring that both men and women have equal rights and opportunities when navigating this challenging life transition.

The Civil Personal Status Law for non-Muslims further simplifies divorce proceedings, and ensures a fair evaluation of divorcee alimony.

In conclusion, Federal Decree Law No. 41 of 2022 on Civil Personal Status has ushered in a new dawn of clarity, fairness, and legal safeguards for divorce proceedings among non-Muslims in the UAE. It reflects the UAE’s unwavering commitment to a just and inclusive society where every individual’s rights are valued and protected.


If the parties manage to enter into an agreement in respect of the elements involved in the dissolution of the marriage such as custody, finance and maintenance, the process of mutual divorce could be finished by a period of 1 to 2 months. However, if the parties fight it out in court the timeline could reach up to a period of one year up until the time a final judgment for divorce, child custody, maintenance and other elements involved in the dissolution of the marriage, is granted by the court.

Parties should always opt for the assistance of an expert lawyer in the process. Proconsult Family Law experts will handhold you through the different stages of the divorce case. We understand the need of the spouses to reach an amicable divorce as it is vital to understand the emotional element involve during the process of divorce in the UAE. Factors such as children, custody, guardianship and assets can make the process more complicated.