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January 21, 2016
Question: What types of correspondence are accepted in cases in the Family Courts?
Answer: The Family Court in Dubai considers, and in most instances accepts, all written correspondence exchanged between the parties as evidence of proving one's claim or disproving the claim of the other. The correspondence may include emails, text messages, WhatsApps and other tools of written communication.
Question: Can either party in a family dispute draft a settlement agreement?
Answer: Some parties sign the settlement agreement without taking advice from a specialised lawyer, and this has led to some very serious repercussions for the parties and their future. It is prudent to mention that such settlement agreements cannot be amended unless both parties consent to the amendment. Below are some of the most common problems of signing without a lawyer:
Some of the agreements are worded in a manner that says, "It is agreed that the custody of the children is given to the mother". The husband signs on this clause presuming that the custody shall belong to mother due to the ages of the children (13 for a female child and 11 for a male child) because the children are under age.
The two issues in this are:
First, less access to the child with the above clause since the father has not restricted the mother's custody of the children based on their age, it is presumed that even after the ages of 13 and 11, the children shall remain with the mother, since the father has waived his right to custody. This shall limit the father's contact with the child because it is more challenging to get custody following such an agreement.
Second, additional financial liability. If the mother retains custody of the child from the ages of 11 or 13 up to 21 years of age, the father shall be liable to pay child maintenance for that additional period of time, which could be up to 10 more years, with no right to information from the mother about how the money is spent.
This is also why it is recommended that both parties seek legal advice before entering into such settlement agreements because it could have an effect on their future rights and obligations to the other party.