Divorce process in Dubai or its steps and what to expect are a very common inquiry. Our clients wonder what they need to start a divorce process in Dubai, how long it will take and how much it will cost them.
The purpose of this publication is to focus on the procedural and expectations part of a divorce process in Dubai beyond the applicable and rights involved. Evidently this has been addressed in our publications already. We do invite you to take a look to the link here or to watch Partner Maria Rubert’s video here.
Prior to addressing the what you need, the how long and the costs involved it is important to stress that a divorce does not always need to be contentious, in fact 75%-85% of the divorces matters that we are involved in end up with a divorce settlement agreement.
Divorce Process in Dubai
Every divorce in Dubai starts with the registration of the desire to get divorced with the Family Guidance Court of the Dubai Courts.
It used to be the case that the Family Guidance Court acted as a marriage keeper trying to understand the reason for the divorce and whether the parties could fix it.
Nowadays, since February 2023, a divorce does not require of any reasons and the family guidance court does not play this role any more, it will merely assess whether the parties may agree on the terms and if the parties do not the matter will be referred to the Court.
Once the case is with the Courts, a financial expert will be appointed (parties will equally bear its fees) and this Expert will determine the assets of the couple along with the rights and obligations of each of the parties.
In the event that parties reach agreement we could anticipate the following costs:
- Minor registration fees (less than AED 500)
- Translation fees for divorce settlement Agreement – AED 1,000 – 1,500 depending on extension.
- Legalizations – marriage certificate will need to be legalized and attested for use in the UAE. Important that lately on top of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs Attestation, it will need to be further attested by Ministry of Justice. The fee of MOFA is AED 150 (+transport) and Ministry of Justice (AED 60approx).
- Legal fees tend to vary and are fixed based on the actual circumstances of the case.
In order to file a case with the Family Guidance Court, the following is required:
- Emirates IDs of the couple
- Marriage Certificate, legalized. We generally help our clients with any steps that may be missing
- A good assessment of the rights that the party filing the divorce wants to achieve. We are happy to help with this assessment but it is very important to stress that rights and obligations of divorce parties are not standard and rather are based on the existing conditions of the marriage and the family before filing for divorce, therefore a personalized assessment is of importance prior to initiating any action.
A question that we are often asked is whether or not both parties must hold a Dubai visa in order for the courts to entertain the application. The answer is that it is sufficient with one of the two holding a Dubai visa and Emirates ID.
Timings of a divorce process in Dubai
In terms of timings of a divorce process in Dubai, we could expect the following:
- If the divorce is settled amicable, we could expect 1-2 months from the moment that the terms are provided to us and we start the drafting of the settlement agreement (evidently we expect fast reviews from clients). The ultimate timing will depend on the Family Guidance Court’s backlog. Sometimes we receive appointments two weeks after the filing, in other occasions close to two months. But the time will only start running once we file the agreement with the court.
- If the divorce is not settled amicably and needs to be solved by a judge with the prior help of a financial expert, we could expect an average of 6-9 months on first instance; 4-6 months on appeal.
We trust that the above is of assistance when evaluating a potential divorce and a divorce process in Dubai. This important is of importance to organise the most imminent family moves. For more information about UAE law you can visit all our publications in this link as well as the videos of our director Maria Rubert.
**This publication is not intended as legal advice and rather as general information for practical awareness on the topic. This is a matter that has changed significantly since its announcement and has not yet been implemented.