Woman loses custody of her children after illegally taking them out of the UAE

The woman did not have approval from the girls' father to travel outside the country and has since relocated to Canada, Dubai Personal Status Court was told

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A woman who denied her ex-husband visitation rights to their daughters then fled the country with them has had custody of their children taken from her.

The 39-year-old woman was granted a divorce from her ex-husband in her home country of Lebanon in 2012.

At the time, the pair agreed - outside of court - that the mother would have custody of their two daughters.

“My client strongly believes that a mother’s presence in her children’s daily life is essential for a healthy growth,” said the man’s lawyer, Awatif Mohammed from Al Rowad Advocates.

“All he asked for was to see his two daughters freely and she agreed to that, but soon after, she started evading him,” Ms Mohammed said.

According to court records, the ex-wife - who ran a personal business - prevented the man from visiting his daughters and in May, travelled to Canada with the girls. The woman allegedly told her friends that they were merely visiting the country and would return to the UAE soon.

Ms Mohammed said her client was not made aware of the trip and only found out after he went to visit his daughters but could not find them.

"As for her claims that it was a short visit, it's not true, it has been seven months since she left and she is not coming back," said Ms Mohammed. The Emirati lawyer said a travel ban was imposed on the girls but it is not clear how the woman left the country with her daughters.
The man, who is a lecturer at a local university, filed a case against the woman seeking she be dismissed as a legal custodian of the girls, and on December 5, the court heard his witnesses.
"She was giving him a very hard time to see his two daughters and he had no idea that she was out of the country with the girls," the man's brother told Dubai Personal Status Court.

"She should not be given custody, the custody must go to my mother who is alive and well and can perfectly take care of her granddaughters," he said.
According to UAE law - articles 149 and 152 from the Federal Personal Status Law number 28 for the year 2005 - a mother with custody of her children cannot leave the country without the permission of the father and if such permission is not given, she can take the matter to court. The law also states that custody will be dropped if the mother takes the child to a different country with the intention of settling there, thereby preventing the father from seeing his child.
"In our case she made both offences: she left with the girls without his approval or knowledge and she took the girls to settle in a new country which prevents my client from seeing his daughters," said Ms Mohammed.
Last week, the court ordered custody of the children be taken from the woman.
Once the verdict is executed, the woman will be arrested upon her return to the UAE. She will also be obliged to pay her husband's legal fees.