UAE family matters Q&As: who should keep a child's passport in case of divorce?

A reader asks how two Muslims of Indian and Pakistani origins can marry in the UAE and another asks if they can apply to travel with a child

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Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

What are the legal requirements for Muslims of Indian and Pakistani origins with UAE residence visas to get married in the UAE? How long does it take for the marriage to be registered in Dubai courts? How are the laws different for non-muslim Indian and Pakistani residence visa-holders in UAE?

The documents required are original passports, original emirates ID, passport size pictures, medical report from government hospital in the UAE, the presence of the woman’s father or wali, and two male witnesses.

Once the documents are ready, it can take one day to get the marriage registered in Dubai Courts.

If the Indian or Pakistani residents are non-muslim, they will have to marry in a church (if they are Christian) or they will have to be married in their respective embassies should they provide such marriage services, then it also depends on the embassy's requirements.

Can I file for a Leave to Remove Application to take a child out of the UAE?

After a divorce in the UAE, if the custodian of a child is someone other than the child's mother, he or she must obtain a written agreement from the guardian before taking the child out of the country. If permission is withheld by the guardian, the custodian may obtain permission for the child’s travel from a judge (Article 149 Personal Status Law).

Who should keep the child’s passport?

The guardian, in most cases the father, of a child has the right to hold the child’s passport for safekeeping but must hand the passport over to the custodian (in most cases the mother) when it is needed for the child’s travel. Furthermore, the judge may order the passport to be kept with the custodian if they experience difficulty dealing with the guardian when the passport is requested (Article 157 Personal Status Law).

Under what circumstances may a parent apply to remove their child from the jurisdiction against the wishes of the other parent?

The custodian of the child may not permanently settle the child in another country if it would cause harm to the father, and if the distance between the two countries prevented the non -resident father from visiting the child and returning home in one day (Article 151).

If the guardian can prove that their residence in the UAE has expired due to valid reasons - such as the end of their employment - which the court will not find arbitrary, the court may allow the guardian to take away the children and the mother will have the choice to join them or not.

If you have a question for our legal consultant, email with the subject line "Family Matters".

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.