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family law

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January 17, 2018

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UAE family matters Q&As: can WhatsApp messages be used as evidence in a divorce?

Question: My wife and I are going through a divorce in the UAE. I want to provide evidence to the court against her but it is in the form of emails and WhatsApp messages. Will the court accept it?

Answer: The Family Court in Dubai considers, and in most instances accepts, all written correspondence between the parties as evidence of proving one's claim or disproving the claim of the other party. Written correspondence includes emails, text messages, WhatsApp messages and other commonly used tools of written communication. However, these need to be printed and translated by legal translators prior to being submitted to court. They are then considered as an acceptable form of written correspondence and can be taken into account by the court as evidence.

Question: I am in the middle of divorce proceedings in Dubai Courts and the judge has just appointed a mediator. What is the role of the mediator and what is the mediator's power?

Answer: In the event that the claimant's claim is not easy to prove, the court might appoint mediators. The purpose of appointing mediators is to communicate independently and together with the parties to reach an amicable settlement and explore any options they might have to reach a workable arrangement. This is done keeping in mind the social importance of the family unit in Emirati society.

During communication between the mediators and the parties, the mediators try to explore the reason for the claim and the requested divorce and to try and work out who is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage and how it can be resolved. The mediators seek to learn if a happy life is possible between the parties and if there is a chance of reconciliation.

If the mediators succeed in convincing the parties to cease divorce proceedings, under certain agreed conditions signed by the mediators, the mediators' report is then referred to the family court. The couple will be able to make objections against the report submitted by the mediators and can counter-argue their own claim supported by evidence on the financial arrangement. However, the judge will not overrule the mediators' recommendation on whether the marriage should continue or divorce be granted.

If the mediator recommends divorce, the court will not have any discretionary powers to change their decision. However, if the mediator suggests compensation to be paid to the wife, such a decision would be subject to the court's discretionary powers which will be limited to the judgment related to the financial settlement only.

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