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Legally speaking: marriage in UAE if not divorced

Starting on February 1, 2023, the new UAE law on marriage, divorce and child custody took effect, applying to non-Muslim expatriates in the country.

An expat in the UAE recently reached out to for a question on how to get married in the UAE despite not being divorced from her husband in the Philippines. The expat said she is in the process of getting an annulment, which is the only legal recourse in the Philippines where divorce is still not allowed. Legal expert Barney Almazar of Gulf Law explains the legalities.

Reader asks: I filed for annulment from my abusive husband in 2019 in the Philippines. I am still waiting to get it. I am currently in a relationship with a German flight attendant and we would like to make our status in the UAE as legal husband and wife. Is it possible for us to get married here?

Almazar answers: You can file a petition for divorce in the UAE. If there are no issues regarding child custody or separation of properties, you can get your divorce certificate in two months. Divorce is still possible even if the other party is not in the UAE. In fact, even if the other party will not agree to sign the divorce papers, the court case can still proceed. Once divorce is granted, you can remarry in the UAE or any country where divorce is recognized. It may also be an option to issue a declaration and apply for marriage under the new marriage law for non-Muslims, which applies to residents and well as tourists. Marriage can take place within 7 days from the application.

Barney Almazar is a director at Gulf Law in the UAE, Philippines, UK and Portugal. Contact him on, +971558650248.

ALSO READ: UAE law reforms on marriage, child custody

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