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Under the Shariah rules, a man is allowed to marry more than once and can have up to 4 wives. That said, the second wife has several rights in such a case. Some of the rights, as enshrined under the Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 On Personal Status (UAE Personal Status Law) have been briefly explained below.
Equitable Treatment under Law
Article 55 of the UAE Personal Status Law clarifies that one of the rights of the wife towards her husband is equitable treatment between her and the other wives, in case the husband has taken more than one wife. This means that while a husband is permitted to have more than 1 wife, he is required to treat all wives equitably.
Article 55 of the UAE Personal Status Law states as follows.
“Rights of the wife towards her husband:
- Non-obstruction to complete her education.
- Non-opposition to visit her ascendants, descendants and brothers.
- Non-interference with her personal properties.
- Non-infliction of bodily or moral prejudice to her.
- Equitable treatment between her and the other wives, in case the husband has taken more than one wife.”
The above also makes it clear that the second wife will also have rights of alimony during the marriage towards her husband.
In accordance with Article 77 of the UAE Personal Status Law, the husband may not accommodate with his wife, another wife of his, unless she gives consent or accepts to live along with the wife. However, the other wife has the right to take back her acceptance if the circumstance becomes detrimental to her.
Article 77 of the UAE Personal Status Law is quoted below for reference.
“The husband may not accommodate with his wife another wife of his unless she accepts provided she can go back on this acceptance whenever it becomes detrimental to her.”
Effects of Marriage
Article 62/2 of the UAE Personal Status Law further states that in donations or similar dispositions, there should be equality amongst the wives.
Article 62/2 of the UAE Personal Status Law states as follows.
“In donations, or similar dispositions, between the children or the wives equality must exist unless the judge deems that there is an interest thereto. Should there be no equality, the judge shall bring it into effect and shall exclude it from the succession.”
This has been further solidified under Article 323 of the UAE Personal Status Law, which deals with succession and share of the wife in the estate of the husband. Article 323 states that each wife, even if there are several, will receive one-quarter of the estate in case the husband does not have a succeeding descendant. In case the husband has a succeeding descendant, each wife will receive one-eighth of the estate.
The above sets out the rights of the second wife even if the husband has not divorced the first wife.