Marriage is considered as a sacred event preluded with love, bliss, and joy
until it comes to an end abruptly through a divorce, leaving behind bitterness
over financial and custody matters. It all may end a lot worse if emotions lead
to financial insecurities leaving you bankrupt all your life. Having said that,
most couples enter into a fair deal prior to the marriage to ease the procedure
of divorce referred to as Pre-Nuptial Agreement.
To elucidate briefly, a pre-nuptial agreement is an agreement entered into by
any couple, yet to get married. The said agreement highlights the procedure for
distribution of assets and other financial obligations, in the event spouses
part their ways. On the other hand, any agreement signed post the conclusion of
marriage is referred to as Post-nuptial Agreement.
Family Lawyers of Dubai receives numerous inquiries concerning the validity of
any nuptial agreement signed by the spouses under the Personal Status Law
(Federal Law 28 of 2005). Consequently, this article will annotate various
aspects of pre/postnuptial agreement.
Under Personal Status Law
Personal Status Law of UAE is derived from the principles of Shariah Law; ergo,
it does not entail the concept of pre/post-nuptial agreement. Therefore, the
country does not have any specific law which shall govern the nuptial agreements
signed by the parties. Nevertheless, it shall be construed under the Civil Law,
like any other contract signed in the country. Yet, it is of utmost importance
to utilize due care whilst drafting such agreement as any provision against the
Law of Shariah will lead to invalidity of the contract.
Prenuptial agreements do not have a standard format and can be tailored as they
desire. Notwithstanding the foregoing, each contract shall have certain elements
for its enforcement which includes, voluntary intent to sign the contract,
complete disclosure of information, equitable distribution and realistic or
achievable prerequisites. In the UAE, the treatment of nuptial agreements is
based on several factors such as the religion of the spouses and their
The Law of Shariah as afore-mentioned does not validate the concept of pre/post
nuptial agreements or distribution of property attained during the marriage.
Accordingly, the property remains of the spouse who acquired it. This is in line
with Article 20 of the Personal Status Law which highlights that the marriage
certificate shall include the conditions agreed between the parties.
Henceforth, UAE nationals should enter any prerequisite in relation to their
marital status or any circumstances post the dissolution of marriage in the
marriage certificate, and any contract shall not be recognized as an ancillary
contract to marriage. Nevertheless, it might be considered under the Civil
Transactions Law subject to the conditions of the Civil Law.
In another context, the prenuptial agreements entered by Muslim expatriates
living in UAE shall be construed according to the jurisdiction in which the
divorce was finalized. In this regard, the UAE Personal Status Law shall be
applicable, if the divorce was filed in UAE; accordingly, the pre-nuptial
agreement would not be valid. Whereas, if the divorce decree has been issued by
another jurisdiction, the prenuptial agreement shall be interpreted under the
provisions of the Civil Transactions Law of UAE.
On the contrary, in cases of non-Muslim foreign expatriates, the nuptial
agreements shall be taken into consideration, if the local laws of the
expatriates allow for distribution of property acquired during the marriage, the
prenuptial agreement shall be enforced and will be binding on the parties.
Pursuant to Article 1(2) of the Personal Status Law, the foreign expatriates can
apply their country laws in any family dispute. Furthermore, according to
Article 5 of the foregoing law, the courts of UAE are authorized to entertain
cases of foreign citizens residing in the UAE. Therefore, nuptial agreements of
foreigners will be enforceable under UAE Law subject to their adherence with the
In a nutshell, the personal status courts of UAE will uphold the nuptial
agreements signed by the parties concerning the distributions of matrimonial
property or any other issues regarding the financial situations of the spouse's
post-dissolution of marriage.