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A divorce process can often be a very unsettling time for the people; however, it is important to understand that financial rights concerning ‘alimony’ and ‘child support’ are very crucial factors that have far-reaching implications. In legal terms, ‘alimony’ refers to the legal obligation of a person to provide financial support to his or her spouse in the instance of a marital separation as per the applicable family law.
While there does not exist, any ‘one rule’ in terms of alimony calculation, it can be determined only after analyzing the following factors such as:
- The religion of the parties: Whether the parties concerned are Muslims or Non-Muslims
- Applicable law: What would be the applicable law that governs the marital relation and obligations of each party. This is mostly determined based on the place of marriage of the parties and is also subject to additional rules.
- Mutual Divorce or Contested Divorce: Added to the above-mentioned rules comes additional factors wherein whether the parties are able to enter into mutually agreeable alimony terms or whether if there is no consensus possible, then the applicable alimony would be subject to rules pursuant to each emirate.
- Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements: Quiet often parties enter into a postnuptial or prenuptial agreement that might predetermine the terms of asset allocation, including custody and alimony rights in the instance of a future divorce.
The general guidelines that a UAE court of law might take into consideration while determining the applicable maintenance include, amongst others:
- The total maintenance payable should not exceed in 60 per cent of the net income after having taken into account the debts payable and any other liabilities. The court will thus take into account the liabilities due and, subject to its discretionary power, allocate the maintenance amount accordingly.
- The maintenance due can be reduced in terms of the housing rent allowance provided the female custodian (mother) owns a house or has been allocated accommodation.
- Similarly, the maintenance due in terms of the housing rent and utilities can be reduced from the total maintenance when the custodian guardian (mother) remarries and now resides with her husband.
- Subject to the courts’ discretion, there is further scope of reduction in maintenance fees in terms of allocating the applicable fees for a maid or nanny services, after taking is not account whether the custodial guardian(mother) is working or not.
It is also to be taken into account that the parties are allowed to apply for revision in terms of the maintenance amounts allocated on a biannual basis. This is allowed based on the fact that possible change in circumstances can occur, whether it concerns the loss of job or reduction in salary or other factors which are part of life and hence have to be considered. If found justifiable, a reduction claim can be allowed by the courts. As discussed above, the concept of alimony might differ under the personal laws of ex-pat residents, and therefore, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of the possible conflict of laws and choice of law.