Unmarried Pregnancy Law in UAE 2024

The laws regarding unmarried pregnancy in the UAE have been a subject of discussion and debate. Being a country primarily based on Islamic law, the UAE has some of the most stringent laws governing sexual relationships outside of marriage. However, over the past few years, there has been a development in terms of the handling of such cases in the country. This article takes a closer look at the current legal landscape surrounding unmarried pregnancy in the UAE in 2024.

Living Together Unmarried in the UAE

In the UAE, as of December 2021, penal laws were governed under Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 on the Issuance of the Penal Law, as amended (‘the Penal Law’). In November 2020, certain provisions of the Penal Law were amended by Federal Decree Law No. (15) Of 2020 (‘FDL 15/2020’). Thereupon, certain acts which were punishable by law before were either decriminalized or the applicable penalties were reduced.

Before FDL 15/2020, Article 356 of the Penal Law used to make the act of sexual cohabitation without marriage a punishable offense. This was called the offense of indecent assault. By FDL 15/2020, Article 356 was amended entirely, and the provisions for indecent assault were removed. Following this, unmarried couples are allowed to live in the same accommodation and cohabit without marriage.

Unmarried Couples and Children in the UAE

There was no mention of the status of unmarried couples with children under FDL 15/2020. A new law has, however, been enacted: Federal Law by Decree No. (31) of 2021 Promulgating the Crimes and Penalties Law (New Penal Law). The law took effect on January 2nd, 2022, and has had a substantial effect on unmarried couples with children. The New Penal Law brings major amendments to Federal Law No. 3 of 1987.

The New Penal Law and Unmarried Couples

The New Penal Law provides for Article 410, which outlines the legal requirements for unmarried couples with children. It states as follows:

A penalty of incarceration for a period not less than (2) two years shall be imposed on whoever has sexual intercourse with a female who has completed (18) eighteen years of age and has given birth to an adulterine child. The female shall be punished with the same penalty.

In all cases, no criminal lawsuit may be filed against them:

  • if the man marries that woman, or
  • One or if both of them acknowledge the paternity of the child, and identification papers and travel documents have been issued for that child in accordance with the laws of the country to which either of them belongs by nationality, subject to the legislation in force in the State.

Such marriage or acknowledgment and the issuance of identification papers and travel documents for the child shall result in the expiry of the criminal lawsuit or the stay of execution of the penalty, as the case may be.

In other words, if an unmarried couple has a child together in the UAE, there are two options to avoid criminal charges (imprisonment for up to two years):

  1. Get married.
  2. Acknowledge paternity of the child (either both partners, or either one of them) and obtain identification papers and travel documents for the child according to one’s home country’s laws, considering UAE regulations as well.

Parental Responsibilities and Child Recognition

Parenting is a key feature of the welfare of the child under the law, irrespective of marital status. The two main conditions that unmarried couples face if they have a child are as follows:

  • Both parents are known and agree: In this case, the law dictates the couple either get married or personally/jointly acknowledge paternity. It is through this process of recognition that the child is given a legal status, accorded inheritance rights, and open access to health and education.
  • Father is unknown: Unmarried mothers now have the right to register the birth without having to involve the father. In fact, the law, implemented in October 2022, eliminated one of the biggest obstacles for single mothers. The mother will just have to fill out a certain form declaring the absence of the father and provide the proof of birth.

Birth Certificate Registration for Unmarried Mothers

Earlier, when a child was born outside of marriage, the process of acquiring his or her birth certificate was an onerous and cumbersome one. The amendment of 2022 allows unwed mothers to register their children directly, thus ensuring the child is documented and gains access to other government services.

Here are the steps in the process:

  1. Gather documents: This involves proof of the mother’s identity, such as a passport or Emirates ID, and a medical birth certificate issued by the hospital where the child was born.
  2. Fill out an application form: The type, in this case, will vary depending on whether the father is known or unknown.
  3. Submit the application: This is generally to the relevant government authority. This might differ from Emirate to Emirate.

Note: The process is viewed to be quite simple, but a consultation with a lawyer who specializes in family law in the UAE is recommended. The lawyer will inform you on the specifics and ensure a seamless process of filing.

How Dubai Court Marriage Lawyers Can Help

The Dubai Court Marriage Lawyers are experts in UAE family law, hence being perfectly conversant with scenarios associated with unmarried pregnancy in the UAE. They will be of great help in the following ways:

  • Guiding you through the legal process: Your rights and options can be explained, and necessary paperwork can be supported in order to make sure you handle all the legalities smoothly.
  • Mediation and negotiation: If the parents do not agree on paternity acknowledgment, custody, or child support, attorneys can help them talk with one another in an attempt to reach an agreeable resolution.
  • Court representation: If it comes to taking legal action, experienced attorneys are good representatives in the court process.

Do not pass through an unmarried pregnancy in the UAE on your own. Get legal direction from Dubai Court Marriage Lawyers, who will have all your interests in check, to help with anything that may be necessary to the well-being of both your child and yourself.

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