After remarriage, will I have to surrender custody of my child?

In this week's family matters Q&A, a woman asks about whether she will have to give up custody of her child even though her ex-husband attended her second marriage ceremony.

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I am a Muslim woman with court-ordered custody of my son. I am divorced from my first husband and married to another. My ex-husband attended my second marriage ceremony two years ago. Now, he is asking for custody of my child. Will I have to surrender the child, or do I have a chance in a court dispute?

You have a very good chance of retaining the custody of your child. Based on the fact that your ex-husband attended your second marriage ceremony two years ago and did not enforce his right to seek custody of the child, it shall be deemed that he has waived his right.

The UAE Personal Status Law states that he should have sought custody rights of your child within six months of knowing about your second marriage. Therefore, in your case, the court will require two male witnesses, or one male and two female witnesses, to testify that your first husband was well aware of your second marriage, as he had attended the ceremony.

Another point your lawyer has to highlight in his argument is the best interest of the child.

He needs to convince the court that it is best for the child to stay with you and not your ex-husband.

Emphasis should be placed on how your second marriage is good for your child. Bear in mind that the court has discretionary powers to let you keep custody of your child even if you are married to a different person if the court believes that it is in the child’s best interest.

We are non-Muslim expats residing in the UAE. I was planning to send my wife back home as she is pregnant. However, because of the doctor’s recommendation, I did not cancel her visa and send her back before delivery of our child. Do I have to apply for a residence visa for my newborn before I send them back? Will I face any problem with the immigration authorities?

After the delivery of a baby, the newborn will have 120 days of legal stay. During this period, you are free to decide whether you want to apply and complete the visa procedures for the child or to obtain a leave permit and send your baby back to your home country. Bear in mind that the maximum period of legal stay permitted is 120 days.

If you have a question for our lawyer, email with the subject line ‘Family Matters’.