Children in Dubai who have reached legal age will soon be allowed to choose their guardian following a divorce, according to a report published on Sunday. Legislation is expected to be issued that will allow children to decide whether they want to stay with their mother or father. This change in the law is expected to offer children more control over their lives after a divorce.
The Custody Committee, affiliated with the Dubai Courts, was established in April 2022 under the decree No. 7 of 2022 issued by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Judicial Council. The committee’s primary responsibility is to issue eligibility reports on the social, psychological, health, and criminal status of persons seeking custody.
According to Ahmad Abdul Kareem, head of family reconciliation and guidance section at the Dubai Courts and chairman of the Custody Committee, since the committee officially began its duties in August 2022, it has completed 32 eligibility reports. Abdul Kareem explains that the current process of issuing a custody eligibility report begins with the court assigning the committee a report regarding the suitability of the guardian for custody.
A specialized committee member from the Child Protection Unit of the Community Development Authority then makes a field visit to the applicant to evaluate their family, social and economic conditions, and ability to provide necessary living, educational, and health needs for the child. It also ensures that those seeking custody are free from any disease that poses a danger to the child.
The custody committee rules by majority vote, and if the votes are equal, the opinion of the chairman of the committee, whose vote counts for two, is the deciding factor.
Currently, the law does not allow the court or the custody committee to allow children to choose between their father and mother for custody. However, Abdul Kareem states that the committee currently seeks the children’s opinion on some aspects related to the investigation of their living conditions and satisfaction with the level of care provided by the parent. He emphasizes that fathers and mothers need to respect the wishes and interests of their children and avoid involving them in the disputes arising from a divorce.
In summary, this change in legislation in Dubai is expected to give children more control over their lives after a divorce by allowing them to choose their guardian. The Custody Committee is responsible for issuing eligibility reports on the social, psychological, health, and criminal status of persons seeking custody. The committee currently seeks children’s opinions on some aspects related to their living conditions and level of care provided by their parents. Fathers and mothers are advised to respect the wishes and interests of their children and not involve them in disputes arising from a divorce.
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