When Parties separate and wish to divorce each other, it is not just a question of sorting out where the Parties are to live, who is going to look after the children etc, there are number of other features that need to be determined such as when assets have been accrued during the marriage, or even prior to a marriage if it is a long marriage, the division of those assets has to be determined and the UK Courts will look at matters somewhat differently to the UAE Courts. For instance, in the UAE, Sharia Law dictates generally speaking, that if property is owned jointly, the division must be 50/50 however if all assets are in one person’s name then that person retains those assets. More often than not, assets are retained in a Husband’s name and it is important for women to try and empower themselves during the course of the marriage in the UAE so that they do not lose out at all from their efforts and contributions within that marriage. If property is purchased for a Family Home, it is only right that a property should be purchased jointly. In the UK, the Courts have a different criteria for the division of assets and matters such as the length of the marriage, the contributions made by the Parties, the needs of the Parties both in terms of housing and capital will also be taken into account. For long marriages, wives are often entitled to spousal support and for very long marriages, that spousal support can last during the Parties joint lives. If Orders are made in the UAE Courts that are unfair to one of the Parties, there is also provision within the UK Matrimonial Law for the Party who has been prejudiced, to apply for leave for a new Financial Order to be made within the UK Courts.

It is important for both Parties to recognise that each of them are making contributions to the marriage, to the upbringing of their children and to family life generally. Those contributions do not necessarily mean that they are of a financial nature because where a mother and wife is looking after the children of the family and the home, those contributions will be taken into account within the UK Courts. That is not necessarily the case, however in Sharia Courts although the UAE Courts do recognise that if a mother has custody of the children which would ordinarily be up to the age of 13 for girls and 11 for boys, the housing needs of both a mother the children must be borne by the husband as well as those education fees for the children.

It can be seen, therefore, that there is a huge difference between the way in which the UAE and the UK Courts deal with matters and it is always preferable, if Parties cannot reach an agreement, to try and fit these legal issues into the UK Courts if jurisdiction allows.

Alderson and Associates have been established in the UAE for some 18 years and spearheaded matrimonial work for UK expats in the UAE. We have many years’ experience of dealing with both jurisdictions and we always take a fair-minded approach to all matters. Aggression and litigation does not help anybody but of course our clients’ interests are always best served and if an opponent becomes aggressive in their approach to litigation, we will fight back for our clients.


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Are UK and UAE based Legal Consultants. Our team of Lawyers have combined experience of over 20 years in the United Arab Emirates and in excess of 30 years in the United Kingdom. We are family specialists in all areas of divorce, financial disputes, children issues and child abduction. We are fully versed as to practice and procedures in the UK and UAE Courts.


PO Box 16500, Ras Al Khaimah

United Arab Emirates

T: +9717-2046752

F: +9717-2046753