Child Maintenance Claims for Unmarried Expat Parents

I live in Dubai with my child and am separated from my unmarried expat partner, can I bring a child maintenance or other financial claim?

One common misconception by unmarried expats, is that you can only bring a financial claim in respect of a child if they live in the UK or if you are married to the other parent.

Where you are not married to your partner but have a child together there is a claim in the UK which you can bring under Schedule 1, Children Act 1989. This entitles you to ask the other parent to make payments for maintenance, school fees, lump sum or transfer of property. Usually, orders in respect of children are only available in the country in which they are habitually resident. This applies for example to orders for their welfare and where they should live. However, this is not the case in a financial claim. Unmarried British expats or those with a connection to England can potentially make financial claims through the UK courts in respect of their children.

There is no financial provision available to a parent of a child in the UAE where they are not married to the other parent. The law simply does not recognise any claim. It can therefore be classified as legally impossible to bring a claim in the UAE for financial remedy relating to a child against a parent to whom you are not married.

This impossibility means however that a claim might be possible in a European jurisdiction, such as England and Wales, where you have a sufficient connection to that country. This connection can be evidenced through nationality, family, work and other things which tie one to a certain country.

As an unmarried expat, if you can demonstrate this connection, and you live in a Muslim country like the UAE (such as Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Malaysia) where it would otherwise be impossible for you to bring a financial claim in respect of your child, then you might be able to establish jurisdiction in England Wales.

Therefore, if you, your former partner and your child all live in Dubai (or another Muslim jurisdiction) but never married, a financial claim might still be possible for you. You might be entitled consequentially to all claims available to a parent under Schedule 1, Children Act 1989.

It is also worth bearing in mind that child maintenance is not just needs driven, it principally exists because a non-resident parent has a duty to maintain their child, whatever the other parent may earn or possess. If a non-resident parent is not maintaining their child either appropriately or at all, this is something that should be remedied as soon as possible. Please read our article setting out 6 essential tips for unmarried expat couples:

If you are in such situation, please get in touch with us at Expatriate Law and we would be happy to help.