Legal Articles / Family Law


Jurisdiction

family law

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October 05, 2013


What are the main jurisdictional requirements for the institution of proceedings in relation to divorce, property and children?

There are a number of exceptions, but in general, the Courts of First Instance (the lowest tier of court) have jurisdiction over family cases filed against citizens or foreigners who are domiciled or resident in the UAE (following Article 5 of Personal Status Law and Article 20 of the Civil Procedure Law). In addition, a citizen or foreigner may commence a divorce in the UAE even if their spouse resides abroad, as long as the spouse is served with the proceedings.

Domicile and Habitual Residence

Explain the concepts of domicile and habitual residence as they apply to the jurisdiction in relation to divorce, the finances and children.

Domicile is defined as a place where an individual resides and see’s their long term home to be. Residence can be more temporary than domicile. In practice, a party would be seen to be domiciled or resident in the UAE for jurisdiction purposes, if they hold a residence visa (or similar) for the UAE.

Conflict of Law/ Applicable Law to be applied

What happens when one party applies to stay proceedings in favour of a foreign jurisdiction? What factors will the local court take into account when determining forum issues?
The UAE courts will apply a ‘first in time’ rule but only in respect of concluded cases. Therefore, one party is able to apply to stay proceedings issued within the UAE courts if they can prove that a final judgment has been issued within their proceedings from a court in another jurisdiction.

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