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A new court that specialises in settling personal cases of non-Muslim expats was inaugurated by Youssef Saeed Al Abri, Under-Secretary of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD).
The move is part of the executive procedures to implement the law governing non-Muslim personal matters in the Capital, promulgated by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in his capacity as Ruler of Abu Dhabi.
The step aims to provide a flexible and elaborate judicial mechanism to settle family disputes for non-Muslims, so as to enhance Abu Dhabi’s position and global competitiveness as one of the most attractive destinations for expertise and skills.
Al Abri explained that the establishment of the court is part of the continuous efforts being made to further develop the judicial system of the Abu Dhabi, in line with the directives of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Judicial Department of Abu Dhabi.
All related forms and procedures in the new court will be bilingual (Arabic and English), in order to facilitate the understanding of legal proceedings by foreigners and to strengthen transparency of the judicial system, Al Abri added.
He stated that the Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims, which is applied by the Court, is the first-of-its kind in the world to apply civil principles in the regulation of family matters, as it addresses the smallest details regarding non-Muslim family issues, and provides a modern judicial umbrella for foreigners to resolve disputes in a flexible manner in accordance with international best practices.
The law consists of 20 articles divided into several chapters covering civil marriage, divorce, joint custody of children and inheritance, with the regulation of marriage procedures for foreigners before the court by introducing the concept of civil marriage based on the will of the husband and wife, divorce procedures and the rights of divorced spouses after divorce, and the discretionary power of the judge to assess the financial rights of the wife based on several criteria.
The law also introduces the concept of joint custody of children following divorce custody, which is the equal participation of both the father and mother in the custody, in order to safeguard the cohesion of the family after divorce and to preserve the psychological health of the children.
In addition, the law also deals with issues such as inheritance, will registration, the right of the foreigner to bequest, by will, all his possessions to the beneficiary of his/her choice, as well regulating the child paternity for non-Muslim foreigners, by providing that paternity is proved by marriage or by declaration.