United Arab Emirates: 3 Points To Remember If Your Spouse Abducts Your Child To UAE

Last Updated: 10 July 2019
Article by Hassan Elhais

Through this article, I will highlight three important points to be considered by either spouse, if the other half has abducted the child from another country to the UAE without proper authorization and consent. Children are always caught up in these despicable events. Nevertheless, such situations can be prevented by taking calculative legal steps within the UAE.

Federal Law Number 28 of 2005 regarding Personal Status Law governs the issues pertaining to Child custody and guardianship within UAE. In accordance with this Law, the mother is a natural custodian of the child, unless otherwise specified by the court, whereas, the father is the guardian who holds the rights of supervision and maintenance of the child. Regardless of UAE Family Law, UAE has promulgated several rules and regulations in relation to child abduction and ways to return the child to the rightful custodian.

Despite the fact that UAE is not a signatory to Hague Convention 1980 concerning international Child Abduction and to Uniform Child Custody and Enforcement Act, the country has entered into various bilateral treaties for prioritizing the welfare of a child in cases of child abduction. Nevertheless, UAE courts generally tend to follow their own laws to adjudicate upon such matters. More or less, child abduction cases are taken into consideration as custody cases; however, if proved that the parent has abducted the child, he or she may face criminal punishments.

Henceforth, below are the three important points which need to be considered, if you face an issue of international child abduction:

1. Appoint Family Lawyers in UAE: The first and foremost step is to engage a family lawyer in UAE who can legally represent you before all relevant authorities and courts to obtain custody of your child or to ensure his safe return to his home country.

2. File a custody case: Principles of Shariah Law is the main source of UAE Personal Status Law which is applicable in the cases of Custody. The second step to prevent child abduction is to file a case for custody within UAE family courts, post obtaining a divorce decree either from UAE courts or from another country. According to UAE law, the Muslim mothers are the natural custodian of the child for the age of 13 years of a girl and 11 years for that of the boy. However, the custody can be challenged by the father on the grounds of incompetent behaviour and second marriage. On the contrary, non-Muslim mothers can apply their home country law as long as it does not conflict with the UAE local Law. In a third scenario, if the father of the child is Muslim and the mother is Non-Muslim, the custody of the child will be transferred to the father, due to the same religion as that of the child.

3. Urgent Application to Travel Ban: According to the principles of Family Law, the father is the guardian of the child and has the capacity to keep the passport of the child. However, if in any given circumstance, the mother desires to abduct the child to another country, the father may impose a travel ban on the children and vice-versa. Either parent may request the judge to rescind the order of travel ban, upon submitting a guarantee of a child's safe return. The court has the discretionary power to apply travel restrictions based on the merits of the case and the child's best interest.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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