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June 09, 2016

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UAE Family Matters Q&A: Can I Reclaim Custody of My Child from My Ex-Husband Despite Remarrying?

Question: I am an Arab woman who remarried after a divorce some time ago. When my former husband learnt of my new husband, he filed a custody claim for our child and won the case on the grounds that I had lost my rights to custody by remarrying. Is there any chance that I or any of my family members may reclaim custody rights of my son in the future?

Answer: As stated in the UAE Personal Status Law, the following two possible situations may be applicable in future:

1) Your mother can make a custody claim if the father of the child has become unfit to be a custodian in the eyes of the law. Articles 143 and 144 of the personal status law lay down the conditions that would render someone unfit to be a custodian. They include not being rational and honest, being sent to prison, not being able to bring the child up and having an infectious disease. It needs to be noted that if your mother is making a claim, she cannot be living in the same house as you.

2) The second scenario is if you were to become divorced in the future, you would then have the right to file a custody claim against your ex-husband. However, it needs to be noted that such a claim can be initiated only after completing the three-month Iddat, or waiting, period, only after which the divorce becomes irrevocable.

Question: I am a European Christian woman and am planning to marry an Arab man. However, I do not want to change my religion or my family name after the marriage. I heard that this will affect my financial rights. Can you advise?

Answer: In accordance with Article 55 and 66 of UAE Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 you have the right to maintain/retain your family name after marriage. You are also entitled to financial support from your husband even if you are from a different religion. That right will remain as long as you are staying with your husband in the same place, or if you did not object to staying with him.

However, there could be two potential scenarios, which you have to bear in mind:

  • In case of death of one amongst the couple, the other shall inherit the deceased's finances
  • In case, in the future there is a dispute regarding custody, according to Article 145 of the UAE Personal Status law, if the child is under 5 you have the right to claim custody of your child based on the above grounds. However, the judge in such situations will have discretionary powers to accept your argument, or to allow the child to remain with the mother. Keep in mind, although when a child is 5 or above, the law weighs on the father's side and you would have the right to custody of the child on the grounds that there is difference between the religion of the child and the mother.
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