International Divorce & Family Law: Middle East & Persian Gulf (including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt)
This region has a wide range of judicial systems, ranging from pure Sharia courts as in Saudi Arabia to wholly secular civil courts. Some countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where there is a large Western and British expat community permit English law to be applied to some aspects of a couple’s divorce if they are non-Muslim.
In 2021 Abu Dhabi, one of seven countries that make up the UAE introduced The Family Law for Non-Muslim Expatriates. The legislation, aimed at expats, allows for no-fault divorce and civil marriage to take place for the first time in the country outside of religious codes. It also allows non-Muslim judges to preside over family issues for the first time anywhere in the Persian Gulf and permits the concept of joint custody of children following divorce.
Often the interaction of religious law with the kind of civil law as administered in England and Wales leads to particular questions of interpretation. We deal with complex questions between England and a range of Middle Eastern countries and have clients across the region. Several countries in the region, including the UAE aren’t signed up to the Hague Convention on International Aspects of Child Abduction which can often lead to complexities when dealing with disputes over children where one party wishes to reside in the UK and the other wishes to reside in the Gulf.
As specialist international divorce and family solicitors, we advise clients who are either UK-based but originate from the Middle East and Persian Gulf countries, or are living on the Gulf but have a connection to England or Wales. Many of our clients are expats (usually the financially weaker spouse) keen to explore the possibility of divorcing under the laws of England and Wales, despite residing in the Gulf. If this is something you are considering it’s vital
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