Abu Dhabi's expat family court registers 25 marriages a day

New express service allows for nuptials to be completed within 24 hours

Powered by automated translation

More than 2,200 marriages have been registered at Abu Dhabi’s new Civil Family Court in the first eight months of the year.

This equals 25 a day, or four an hour, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department figures show.

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

The new law includes equal rights for men and women, joint custody and measures to expedite all procedures.

The department, which released the statistics on Wednesday, said demand had doubled over the past three months after the unveiling of the “Express” civil marriage service, which allows for nuptials to be completed within 24 hours of first applying to the court for approval, instead of the previous 48 hours.

British couple one of the first to wed in Abu Dhabi under new marriage law

British couple one of the first to wed in Abu Dhabi under new marriage law

The ADJD said the express service was introduced in response to the large number of tourists seeking to take advantage of the low cost of marrying in Abu Dhabi, where it costs Dh300, and the efficiency of the process.

Before the law came into effect, only couples of the same faith could marry in the emirate. They had the option to marry at a place of worship and later have their union registered in court.

If they chose to marry in court, they would require a legal guardian and two witnesses. In both cases, it was considered a religious marriage and not a civil union.

The new court does not require witnesses or lawyers — only the bride and groom.

Cases on the rise

Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court said 95 applications for no-fault divorce and joint custody were registered — a 40 per cent increase since May.

Under the laws issued this year, spouses have the right to divorce without needing to prove harm was done in the marriage, or going through any lengthy mediation process.

The civil divorce judgment is rendered at the first hearing within 30 days after the divorce petition is filed, without the need to submit the case to the Family Guidance division.

When it comes to the children, joint and equal custody is automatically granted to parents after divorce, with procedures in place to settle disputes.

The new figures also revealed that the court received 820 applications for the authentication of civil wills, 145 applications for proof of parentage and requests for birth certificates for foreign children and 65 civil inheritance cases, which represented a 125 per cent increase over the past three months.

The law provides for the distribution of the estate of foreigners residing in Abu Dhabi by granting the surviving spouse 50 per cent of the assets while the remaining half is divided equally among the children, regardless of gender.

The court also decides on the distribution of the estate, in Arabic and English, within 30 days from the date of registration of the case.

Updated: August 25, 2022, 11:15 AM