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Mediation in the United Arab Emirates

By 7th October 2019 No Comments

Mediation presents divorcing or separating couples with a much quicker, and ergo more cost effective, means of resolving disputes and this process is now available to expats living in the UAE.
When parties have made the decision to separate they simply want to move forward as quickly as possible. The prospect of not knowing what the future might look like is not a prospect most people want to be facing for any length of time.

London has long since been thought of as the ‘Divorce Capital’ of the world, largely due to it’s favourable views on division of assets based on parties’ needs.
The right to start divorce proceedings, and therefore financial proceedings, in the UK depends on domicile and residence. Most expatriate couples will be found to have maintained English domicile, particularly in the UAE where citizenship is unlikely.

Over recent decades, family mediation has evolved and developed to such an extent it is now recognised in the framework of the English legal system. Indeed, applications to UK courts cannot be made without parties first meeting with a mediator to discuss their case (expatriate applications are exempt). Mediation assessment meetings became compulsory in 2013 as a means of informing potential litigants of the alternatives to resolving their disputes through court and ultimately reducing the ever increasing burden on the legal system. This move towards mediation has proven to be so successful, countries around the globe are now following suit.

During the mediation process parties will discuss their issues via the mediator and will use the advice obtained from their own local lawyers, to explore the options available to them under UK law, UAE law or the law relating to their country of origin. Those options are then narrowed down with a view to finding common areas and reaching agreements.

Should parties reach agreements in mediation they can then use UK lawyers working in the UAE to draft legally binding agreements, which can then be lodged in UK courts. Expatriates should be aware that orders made in England and Wales are not enforceable in the UAE but can be enforced in other jurisdictions.

As a mediator, it is my role to help both sides of a dispute to navigate an incredibly daunting system to achieve an outcome that best suits their needs and the needs of their children. In order to accomplish this I call upon my many years of experience as a mediator working and teaching on an international level. I also call upon my established network of professionals whom I know I can rely on to provide sound advice for clients when the need arises.

Any expatriates facing the prospect of separation should first of all consider resolving matters amicably through mediation in the best interest of all parties.