Family LawPersonal Status Law for Non-Muslim in Abu Dhabi

A new civil personal status decree has been introduced in the emirate of Abu Dhabi by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi. This personal status decree will be applicable for non-Muslim foreigners based in Abu Dhabi in matters of marriage, divorce, Will, inheritance, and custody of children.

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According to the new Civil Personal Status Decree issued on Sunday, November 7, 2021, by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Non-Muslim residents in Abu Dhabi will be allowed to marry, divorce and get joint child custody under civil law.

This law aims to make an easy and accessible approach for non-Muslim expatriates and allows them to avoid a complicated process and provide hassle-free legal proceedings. In addition, the law provides equal rights for both genders – especially to females – in testimony, marriage, divorce, estate, and custody of the child without any differentiation.

Scope of the Law

The new personal status law will be applicable for non-Muslim foreigners based in Abu Dhabi. IF a foreigner does not wish to apply their home county law then this law will be applied in marriage, divorce, will, inheritance, and custody of child matters. the matter will be heard by a single judge. A new court will be established under this law and the court will work in Arabic and English languages and non- Muslim judges can be appointed for judgeship.


For a civil marriage, both parties should be at least 18 years old and should be single at the time of marriage. They also need to inform about any previous marriage(s) and divorce(s) and their dates in the declaration form. At the time of marriage, both parties can submit a contract where they can mention their terms during the marriage, and after divorce, the rights of a spouse.

In this contract, both parties can make their Will also. Premarital medical examination will not be required.


A foreigner can approach the court and demand the divorce without justifying a reason for the divorce and putting blame on the other party. Divorce matters will not be referred to the family guidance for reconciliation. Rather, it will be registered straight in the court and will be decided in the first session after notification of the other party.


The court will order for alimony to the wife according to the length of the marriage, age of the wife, economic status of the spouse… etc. The ex-wife’s alimony right will be terminated after her new marriage.

Child Custody

Both the wife and husband shall have equal rights in the custody of the child. If any differences arise about child custody, then the court will decide the matter.


A foreigner can make a will and his/her property will be distributed according to his Will, otherwise, after the death of a foreigner, half of his/her property will be transferred to the spouse, and the remaining half will be shared equally between children without difference of son and daughter. If a person has no children, then half of the property will be transferred to parents equally.

This decree will be applicable after a month of Official Gazette publication.

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