Child custody in the UAE is a sensitive issue that must be approached with care. Children are most impressionable during their formative years. Situations such as the dissolution of marriage or divorce can have a negative impact on their emotional and psychological well-being.
In shared custodial arrangements, studies have shown that children whose parents are not in conflict tend to adjust well to the change in living conditions. On the other hand, separated parents who fail to cooperate in parenting through share custodial arrangements are shown to have negative effects on the psychological and emotional well-being of their children.
In fact, research reveals that children whose parents are frequently in conflict tend to display depressive and problematic behaviour, such as poor performance in school and delinquency. That is why it is important to understand child custody policies in the UAE and how they can affect the outlook of children in the long run.
Definition of custody per UAE personal status law
As defined by UAE law, custody is the right and duty of spouses to be afforded to their child upon their matrimony. If they are to dissolve their union, the custody of the children will be granted to the mother, granted that she is fit and willing to provide for their needs, per the conditions set by law. To arrive at a custodial decision, there are three rights that must come into unity with one another – that of the father, the custodian, and the child under custody.
If the three rights fall in line with one another, then they are considered valid. However, if they fail to agree with one another, then the rights of the child are prioritised. Ultimately, the custody must favour the interests of the child under custody.
When is a parent not eligible for child custody?
Per Article 143 of the UAE Personal Status Law, a parent is not eligible to have custody over a child if he or she suffers from the following conditions:
- Mental Disorder – a child under custody needs a guardian who is capable of providing ample care and protection. A parent suffering from mental disorder is not capable of providing these essential needs, and is therefore not allowed to have custody of the child.
- Physical incapability – a child needs to have a guardian who can physically take care of the child. As such, a parent whose sickness renders them physically incapable of providing the care needed by the child is ineligible for child custody. In the same way, a parent who is affected by a severely infectious disease would be considered ineligible