Publications: Family Law
UAE family matters Q&A: I want to divorce abusive, negligent wife but I'm scared she will take kids
Question: I want to divorce my wife and have some questions. I have to travel a fair bit for work, and she is not completing her duties as a housewife, our flat is a mess. She does not cook any more, does not clean and she's hardly awake to take our daughter to the school bus. The child is trailing behind at school because she's missed so many days. My wife has a physical illness, so I understand that this can make her tired, but this is exaggerated. I tried to be supportive and employ a nanny four hours a day and a maid as well but, on top of that, she is ungrateful. Recently, on top of the usual verbal abuse, she started hitting me and insulting me in front of our children. I have a medical report of the incident and she has since done it again, also throwing our boy, who bumped his head. I really don't know what to do any more. My concern is that she gets custody of the kids and I know she won't take proper care of them.
Answer: You have the right to file for divorce per Article 117 of the Personal Status Law No 5 of 2005. The grounds for divorce would be: damaging family by neglecting the children and not emotionally and morally supporting the family and children. You also have the right to report physical abuse to the police in an effort to restraint her from physically abusing you. It is true that custody of children usually goes to the mother, as long as the children are under a certain age (boy 11, girl 13), however, you have the right to claim custody based on the fact that the mother is unsuitable or unfit to take care of the children. One of the factors, per Article 143, is that the custodian be capable of bringing up, protecting and caring for the child. The court's paramount concern is usually the best interest of the child, therefore as long as you are able to prove that the mother is unfit or unsuitable to raise the children, you should be able to claim custody.
Question: I am an Asian woman and I think my husband is having sex with a woman in Dubai. I don't have any proof yet but many people have told me already. Can I file a case against him?
Answer: You have the right to file a criminal case against him for the offence of adultery, per Article 356 of UAE Federal Law No 3 of 1987, the Penal Code, only if you have proof that he has been having a physical relationship with another woman in the UAE. If you are planning to proceed with criminal charges against your husband and his girlfriend you should provide any kind of evidence you have, including witnesses (testimony of two male witnesses and one female witness), photos, videos, emails/messages exchanged or a letter of admission. In general, the criminal court has full discretionary powers to evaluate and determine whether or not your husband committed adultery based on the subjective evidence you produce.
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