Dubai: In a rare development, a Dubai court has used an Indian law to grant a man divorce, leading to him gaining custody of his children.
It comes in line with a new UAE Federal Personal Status Law (Federal Law No. 41 of 2022) that took effect in February 2023, which grants non-Muslim expats the option to request a UAE court to apply their own country’s law regarding family matters such as marriage, divorce, child custody and other areas.
In the recent case heard at Dubai Court of Personal Status, the man and woman - both Hindus - were British nationals of Indian origin.
The verdict came after the court reviewed the evidence, including medical reports and testimonies, which proved the mother to be mentally and emotionally unfit to raise the children.
Setting the legal framework
The Dubai court granted the divorce to the husband, relying on an Indian marriage law from 1955 as the legal framework for the decision. The wife had requested that the Indian law be used in the case.
Despite attempts by the wife’s legal team to argue that the said Indian law does not support divorce under the circumstances cited by her husband, the husband’s lawyers successfully refuted this claim.
They provided compelling evidence that under Indian law, divorce can indeed be granted if one of the spouses suffers from an incurable illness, thereby satisfying the conditions necessary for the dissolution of the marriage.
Filing for divorce
The case initially began in September 2022 when the husband, aged 47, filed for divorce. The matter was initially taken to the reconciliation section. When attempts to reconcile the couple failed, the case was referred to the Dubai Court of Personal Status in March 2023.
The couple, who married in 2011 in India, have two children, ages 8 and 6.
The father requested that he be granted custody, citing the mother’s behaviour as detrimental to the family. The husband submitted evidence that his wife was abusive to him and their children. Court documents also revealed that the wife, aged 46, had a history of bipolar and emotional disorders.
He accused her of frequently overreacting, divulging family secrets to his co-workers, and disposing of personal family items by giving them to strangers.
The husband also indicated that despite various attempts, his wife remained in denial about her mental condition and consistently refused medical treatment.
In her defence, the wife claimed that despite her husband’s substantial monthly salary and rental income from a Dubai apartment, he was not covering her living expenses. These claims were refuted by documents submitted by the husband’s lawyer.
Corroborating the husband’s claims, a domestic helper who had worked for the family testified that the wife had been exhibiting strange behaviours, mistreating the children, and frequently calling the police for trivial matters.
A friend of the husband told the court that the wife had been admitted to a mental health facility last year after showing disturbing symptoms.
Emirati lawyer Awatif Mohammed of Al Rowaad Advocates told the court: “Medical reports confirm that the defendant suffers from schizophrenia. This has been a persistent issue that poses a risk to the plaintiff and now threatens the lives of their children due to her abnormal and unpredictable actions.”
In August this year, the court ruled in favour of the husband, granting him divorce and custody of their children.