Through this article, I will highlight three important points that should be considered by either spouse, if the other half has abducted the child from another country to the UAE without proper authorization and consent. Children always get involved in these despicable events. However, such situations can be prevented by taking calculated legal action within the UAE.
Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 on the Personal Status Law governs matters relating to the custody and guardianship of children within the UAE. Pursuant to this Law, the mother is the natural guardian of the child, unless otherwise ordered by the court, while the father is the guardian who has the rights of supervision and maintenance of the child. Independently of the UAE Family Law, the UAE has enacted various rules and regulations regarding child abduction and ways to return the child to their rightful custodian.
Although the UAE is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction and the Uniform Custody and Execution of Children Act, the country has signed several bilateral treaties to prioritize the welfare of a child in child abduction cases. However, courts in the UAE often follow their own laws in ruling on these matters. More or less, child abduction cases are considered as custody cases; however, if the parent is proven to have abducted the child, he or she may face criminal penalties.
Going forward, here are the three important points to keep in mind if you are facing an international child abduction issue:
1. Appoint family lawyers in the UAE: The first and most important step is to hire a family lawyer in the UAE who can legally represent you before all relevant authorities and courts to gain custody of your child or ensure their safe return to your country of origin.
2. Filing a Custody Case: Shariah Law Principles are the primary source of the UAE Personal Status Law that applies in Custody cases. The second step in preventing child abduction is to file a custody case in the UAE family courts, after obtaining a divorce decree from the UAE or foreign courts. According to the law of the United Arab Emirates, Muslim mothers are the natural custody of the child at the age of 13 for a girl and at the age of 11 for the boy. However, custody can be challenged by the father on the grounds of incompetent conduct and second marriage. In contrast, non-Muslim mothers can apply the law of their country of origin as long as it does not conflict with the local law of the UAE. In a third scenario, if the father of the child is Muslim and the mother is not Muslim, custody of the child will be transferred to the father, due to the same religion as that of the child.
3. Urgent Travel Ban Request: According to the principles of Family Law, the father is the guardian of the child and has the ability to keep the child’s passport. However, if in any given circumstance the mother wishes to abduct the child to another country, the father can impose a travel ban on the children and vice versa. Either parent can petition the judge to rescind the travel ban order, by presenting a guarantee of the safe return of a child. The court has the discretionary power to apply travel restrictions based on the merits of the case and the best interests of the child.