All You Need To Know About Moving To Dubai As Expat Unmarried Parents By Legal Mama Alexandra
Alexandra Tribe of Expatriate Law gives us advice for expat unmarried couples who are considering a move to Dubai.
Before considering moving your family abroad, it is important to seek legal advice in the country which you intend to move, as well as in your home country, to learn about your rights. Below are 5 tips to consider well in advance of making a move abroad.
- Is cohabitation of unmarried couples against the law? In the Middle East, where Islamic laws prevail, strictly speaking the cohabitation of unmarried couples is against the law. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is against the law for an unmarried couple of the opposite sex to live together. Whilst the authorities may cast a blind eye to non-Muslim expatriates living together in this way in Dubai, if there is a reason for the police to investigate, for example following noise disturbance or other breach of the peace, criminal sanctions could follow.
- Visas or Dependents passes: Spousal visas for Dubai, Dependent’s visas for Hong Kong, or Dependent’s Passes for Singapore will not be granted to the other party of an unmarried couple. A marriage certificate is required to prove the marriage. For unmarried couples where only one of the couple intends to work, this can cause difficulties. It is important to seek early advice prior to relocation to these countries as to how a longer term visa can be granted (tourist visas are an option for the very short term). Consideration should also be given to how visas could be obtained for the children of unmarried couples. In Dubai for example, a marriage certificate for the parents is usually required for the visa of a child to be processed. There are options to avoid the submission of a marriage certificate, but these may require certain steps in your home country. It is essential to ensure your prospective employer gives clear and full advice to you on visa issues before you relocate.
- Consider what laws will apply to you: I find that if couples separate whilst living abroad as expats, a dispute often arises as to when one of the couple should relocate back home with their children. Be aware that in the event of a dispute concerning your children whilst living abroad, it is most likely that the laws of the country in which you are living will apply. For those expats living in the Middle East, these are derived from Sharia laws. If necessary, have an enforceable agreement put in place with your partner as to when and how the children can return home with you.
- Know your rights as an unmarried partner: Many unmarried couples assume that their stable and long term relationship will confer them legal rights. These rights may be limited at best, and non-existent at worst. As an unmarried couple, you may find that you are unable to apply to the courts of the country in which you live for legal remedies, as your relationship is not recognised or is against the law in the country in which you live (for example in Dubai child maintenance cannot be sought for the children of unmarried parents). Living as an expat, you may additionally find that any legal remedies through the court of your home country are restricted or refused through lack of jurisdiction. Seek clear and accurate legal advice as to the potential ‘jurisdiction’ for financial or other claims in the event that you separate from your partner whilst living abroad.
- Protect yourself: If you and your partner wish to invest in property or other assets, make sure that your share is protected. This may not be as simple as placing the asset in joint names, as in some countries for unmarried couples this is not possible. Seek advice as to how assets may be purchased safely by unmarried couples, and make sure that your intended share is documented. Avoid bringing assets overseas unless you need to for tax or other reasons. Retaining property or assets in your home country may allow you to retain financial remedies in that jurisdiction in the event of a dispute. Consider entering in to a cohabitation agreement with your partner, which can attempt to ensure that the jurisdiction for any future dispute is retained in your home country. Seek clear and full legal advice on these issues.