What powers does the court have to allocate financial resources and property on the breakdown of marriage?
The court will not automatically consider the financial position of a separating couple unless an application is made to the court. Unless the parties are Muslim and a marriage contract is in place which they seek to enforce, a financial application can only be made by the receiving party, not the giving party. This means that a husband who divorces his wife in the UAE (expatriate or local) cannot enforce a settlement on her in this jurisdiction.
There are no family laws in the UAE that deal with the allocation of property on the breakdown of marriage. On divorce, each party retains the assets and property held in their respective names. The division of jointly owned property is dealt with under general civil laws. One party may apply to the court for an order for sale of a jointly owned property, or for the other party to buy out their share. The starting point is the assumption that parties hold jointly owned property in equal shares. If one party is able to show the court that they made a greater financial contribution towards the property in terms of purchase price or mortgage payments, they may retain a larger share of capital. It is important to note that the UAE court only have jurisdiction over property owned within the UAE, not abroad. Other jointly owned bank accounts or other assets will be dealt with in the same way.
Explain the operation of maintenance for spouses on an ongoing basis after the break down of marriage
Under UAE laws, it is never possible for a husband to make income claims from a wife, even if he holds custody of the children. A wife may make financial claims for herself and her children irrespective of her own wealth and income.
The wife's claims for herself are compensation type claims, as follows:
1. The first of these is called 'Nafket Motaa'. This claim is for a year's worth of expenses to cover the wife's 'moral damage' that she may suffer as a result of her husband divorcing her against her will. The claim could amount to as much as 40% of a husband's income for one year, but is usually 25%.
2. The second is for the wife to claim compensation from her husband, for not supporting her during the last year of her marriage.
3. Thirdly, is the 'Nafket Eda'. This is the financial claim that a wife could make from her husband to support her financially during the waiting period.
On what basis is child maintenance calculated within the jurisdiction?
The court will consider the standard of living that the children experienced during the marriage to determine the appropriate level of child maintenance. Child maintenance will cover all expenses required by the wife to care for the child e.g. rent of housing, schooling, medical expenses etc. The wife claiming child maintenance would be required to provide documentary evidence of the expenses that her husband met for the children during the marriage. The wife can also claim a monthly figure as a 'carer's allowance', this figure depends on the level of the husband's income.