Child Custody and Relocation


A breakdown of a marriage is always a sensitive matter. It is even more difficult if children are involved. In this article we highlight the rules that govern child custody in the UAE

​UAE Law allocates different rights and responsibilities to a mother and a father with regards to their children. Usually custody is granted to the mother and the father becomes the “guardian”. However, the UAE courts will always act in the best interest of the child, as stated in Article 144 of Federal Law No. (28) of 2005, on Personal Status.


The custodian is responsible for day to day care of the child. They are unable to make important decisions about the child’s education, upbringing and relocation without the guardian’s consent.

The guardian shall support the children financially and maintain their education, medical treatment and accommodation.

The guardian also has visitation rights, which are usually determined by a judge as two days per week, unless otherwise agreed.

Though custody is usually granted to a mother, this right shall be transferred to the guardian when a male child reaches the age of eleven years or a female child reaches thirteen years of age.

Nevertheless, if it in the best interest of the child, the court may extend the custody of a woman till the age of maturity for the male and up to a marriage for the female.

​A mother may lose the right of custody if any of the following happens:

  1) The mother remarries to a man not related to the child.
2) In case the mother is of a different religion than the child, she shall lose her custody unless the judge decides otherwise
3) The mother has a dangerous contagious disease.
​4​) If the mother is convicted for a crime against honor.


It must be noted that where the law of the parties’ home country is silent on an area of divorce law, UAE law may be applied.


​The custodian may not take the child for travel or relocate outside the UAE without the written consent of the guardian. If this consent is not obtained, such an act may be considered as child abduction. If either party has a premise of abduction of the child, they can submit an application for a travel ban preventing the child from travelling outside the UAE without the written consent of the other parent.