Lawyers are urging influential expat ladies to enter right into a prenuptial settlement to keep away from paying alimony to husbands

Lawyers in the United Arab Emirates are urging working women to enter into a prenuptial agreement to protect their assets in the event of a divorce.

As unromantic as it may sound, experts are seeing a trend that more women than ever are paying child support to their ex-spouses.

In recent decades, most divorces have resulted in the husband making payments to his ex-wife, but times have changed.

Byron James, head of UAE Expatriate Law based in the UAE, said more women are overearning their husbands and, in the absence of a prenuptial agreement, are being asked to provide for their husbands even after divorce.

A marriage contract, or prenup, is a legally binding written contract in which a couple decides how assets or debts will be divided in the event of a divorce.

If a husband cannot support himself after the divorce without the financial support of his wife, the wife would have to pay money to the husband


Without a marriage contract, a husband or wife, whoever earns more, must share most of their hard-earned money and wealth with the other.

The final decision depends on the judge, who could rule that the richer party must continue to support their ex-husband or ex-wife, regardless of gender and contribution to the marriage.

Mr James said he had handled several cases in the past where women were required by law to share more than half their income with their ex-husbands.

He said he currently represents a number of British expat women in the UAE who do not have a prenuptial agreement and are being forced to share their assets through procedures taking place in England. They are also committed to continuing to support their ex-husbands financially.

“There is a growing number of our clients who are successful professional women who are either employed or in leadership positions or running their own businesses – they are financially independent and successful in their jobs,” he told The National.

“They may also have been the primary custodians of their children. These women have husbands who have not contributed equally, either financially or in caring for the children.

support for unemployed husbands

“In most countries around the world, a judge will also consider the needs of both parties. And they say why shouldn’t both parties have their needs met? So that would mean that the richer party would support the other person.

“If after the divorce a husband is unable to support himself financially without his wife’s financial support, the wife would have to pay the husband money – this money could be for a home, a car, or just her monthly needs in what is called A regular payment order is used,” he said.

He gave the example of a rich British woman in her 50s who married an unemployed man of the same age because she didn’t want to break old UAE laws that criminalized cohabitation.

For a few years after the marriage, he remained unemployed and made no financial contributions to the marriage. After the divorce, he argued that he was unemployed and needed financial support indefinitely.

Mr James said the longer a couple stays married, the more they have to share, sometimes even if it means sharing what they bought before the wedding.

“These women have a problem. They feel like they’ve worked really hard, both as moms and in their jobs. They have contributed far more than their husbands and they are saddened that their husbands are demanding even more money from them in the separation,” he said.

Rarely do people get married thinking it’s going to end, but Mr James said it would have been helpful for these women to have a prenuptial agreement.

“People often get married without even thinking about it,” he said.

“Sometimes people get married in their early 20s when they start out with nothing, so they think I have nothing to protect.

“But for the next 10 or 15 years, they work really hard and build things while also raising the kids.”

Importance of Marriage Contract

A prenup has two key concepts: one is to characterize assets as either conjugal or non-marital and to help define what can be divided in the event of a divorce and to what extent.

“That can be of great value. It means you don’t have to spend as much on legal fees when you’re arguing about things when you get a divorce, and it means you limit the claims that can be made against you. They’re also more likely to keep everything amicable,” Mr James said.

“Some people think it depends on how rich you are and I think that’s a mistake. While people with high net worth are more likely to have pre/post marriage arrangements, many more people could benefit from them. There’s no reason why nobody, at any level, shouldn’t have a premarital contract.”

More awareness needed

Legal experts say more awareness about marriages is needed.

dr Karim El Chazli, legal adviser at the Swiss Institute for Comparative Law based in Lausanne, said there are multiple prenuptial agreements, such as B. Pre-nuptial agreements, alimony agreements, separation agreements, pre-marital or post-marital agreements, and others.

“There are various agreements that define the terms of closing, timing of closing, legal effectiveness, etc. However, not all couples are aware of the possibility of entering into such agreements, as well as the different options available,” he said.

“Awareness of this issue needs to be raised. As someone correctly put it, a prenuptial agreement and similar arrangements are basically hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

“By limiting a judge’s discretion, a prenuptial agreement gives spouses some predictability and clarity. A prenuptial agreement can help avoid potential liability for a spouse’s debts.

“It also means that future spouses set aside a certain amount of time to discuss among themselves and get to know each other’s expectations better and anticipate potential problems. That discussion is just as important as the marriage contract itself.”

Sharia law and marriage contracts

This is a concept that does not exist in Sharia law. In Muslim marriages, the man’s role is to provide for the woman during the marriage and only three months after a divorce.

Only minor children receive financial support – longer support is only reserved for the children of the marriage.

The most expensive divorce settlements

Bill and Melinda Gates: $73 billion

Bill and Melinda Gates’ split, worth $146 billion, was one of the largest divorce settlements in history due to the sheer size of their fortune.

Court documents filed by Ms Gates, 56, a copy of which was published on the website TMZ, revealed the couple had no prenuptial agreement but had previously signed a separation agreement that provided a framework for proceeding with the divorce.

Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott: $38 billion

Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Scot split in 2019. Mr. Bezos, the Amazon founder who had a net worth of $197 billion at the time, paid $38 billion to settle his divorce with his wife of about 26 years.

It was widely reported that they had no marriage contract.

Mel Gibson and Robyn Denise Moore: $425 million

Mel Gibson divorced his 31-year-old wife Robyn Denise Moore in 2011.

There were reports at the time that the couple had no prenuptial agreement and Mel Gibson had to pay $425 million for the divorce settlement.

The most expensive divorces of all time – in pictures

Updated September 5, 2022 5:08 am

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