Five thousand expatriate couples choose Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court for marriage

Tourists made up 12 per cent of those who chose to marry in the emirate

The family court hears cases related to marriage, custody, divorce, paternity, inheritance and personal status. Photo: Abu Dhabi Judicial Department
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Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court has registered the marriage of 5,000 expatriate couples since it started providing the service in December 2021.

Twelve per cent of the couples were tourists, officials said at a media forum on Thursday.

A Canadian couple were the first to register their marriage at the new court in December last year, followed by eight couples in January and 57 in February this year.

The numbers continued to increase throughout the year to a high of 627 couples registering their civil marriage in November.

The court at the emirate's Judicial Department provides a service to people of all religions that is entirely separate to the UAE's state marriage system, which is based on Islamic teachings.

The dedicated family court, part of legislation introduced in November 2021 to better support residents in the emirate, hears all cases related to marriage, custody, divorce, paternity, inheritance and personal status for non-Muslims.

“It includes cases of equal rights in inheritance, joint custody, no-fault divorces and allowing mothers to register their children under their names,” said Mohammed Al Rafei, legal adviser at Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.

Couples from 127 countries have used the service with the majority being from the Philippines.

“There were couples from India, the UK, Lebanon, Russia and the United States,” said Muna Al Raeesi, head of Foreigners Services at the judicial department.

The court has so far processed 200 no-fault divorce applications, 23 prenuptial agreements, 130 civil inheritance cases and 1,566 applications to attest wills.

“In no-fault divorces, couples are not referred to counselling sessions, and divorce is granted within 30 days from filing the case, while joint custody of the children is granted to the couple.”

In 25 cases, the court allowed the child to be registered under the mother's name.

Updated: December 16, 2022, 11:25 AM