UAE: Family Law Amendments
The UAE government has recently introduced new amendments in the area of family law and other spheres concerning people’s daily life. These amendments aim to reform laws related to divorce and inheritance, alcohol consumption, suicides and also aims to introduce stricter punishments for harassment of women.
These laws, effective immediately, are said to enable non- Emaratis to apply their home country’s personal laws to deal with their domestic affairs. This implies that, issues of divorce and inheritance concerning expatriates will not attract the application of Islamic laws.
Divorce and Inheritance
The changes in the laws cover wills, inheritance, separation, division of assets among divorced persons etc. As per this change, if a couple gets married in their home country and wish to seek a divorce in UAE, the laws of where the marriage was officiated will apply. Further, in case of an absence of agreement between the couple concerning joint assets, the court may intervene to mediate between the two.
With respect to wills, as per the previous law, family members of a deceased person were to divide their assets according to the Shariah law in the absence of a will. Now, the citizenship of a person with decide asset division among the next of kin. It is imperative to note that, these changes will not affect property purchased in UAE.
Assault and Harassment
A range of amendments have been introduced for the protection of women’s rights. In instances of ‘honor crimes’ a lighter sentence was awarded to a person who had assaulted a female under the garb of protecting her honor, this status is no longer recognized. Therefore, the distinction between an assault and an honor crime has been removed.
The new laws call for stricter punishment for harassment such as street harassment, stalking etc. Further, law also aims to recognize that men can also be subject to harassment or stalking.
The possession and consumption of alcohol are no longer punishable under the law, provided that it is consumed in authorized areas and the individual consuming it is of legal age, i.e. 21 years old. The requirement to possess a license to consume alcohol will no longer attract penalties.
Cohabitation of unmarried couples
Though, authorities have not prosecuted any person for breach of this, unmarried couples and unrelated flat mates can now legally share a home in the UAE. It basically serves as an assurance as to the legality of this arrangement.