British expat divorce in Kuwait
Are you an expatriate residing in Kuwait? Are you planning to get married? Are you going through a divorce? Are you seeking custody of your children?
Familiarizing yourself with the local rules and laws is imperative to having a positive experience whilst living and/or working in Kuwait.
In Kuwait, various laws such as the Family Court, Personal Status and Kuwaiti Nationality and Visa Laws govern family disputes. Family matters are taken very serious by the government of Kuwait, and to assure the efficiency of handling such cases, every governorate has established a Family Court to oversee divorce, alimony, custody, and child support matters. The Kuwaiti courts are open for the use of expatriates who are considering divorce in the region.
Application of Kuwaiti Law
The question divorce lawyers in Kuwait are most often asked by expatriates, is whether the Kuwaiti Family Law applies to them and their family. The answer depends on the circumstances. In accordance with ‘Law No. 5 for the Year 1961 regulating the Legal Relations having Foreign Element’, foreign laws may be applied by the Kuwaiti courts in family matters that involve expatriates. Different laws will be applied to different disputes as follows:
i) Recognition of marriage in Kuwait
For matters concerning the recognition of marriage (e.g. eligibility, validity of consent and the condition of being free from impediments of marriage), the Kuwaiti courts shall refer to the law of nationality of the two spouses if they have the same nationality, and if their nationality differs, they shall refer to the law of the nationality of each spouse. For consideration of the formal conditions of marriage (e.g., authentication and religious ceremonies), the Kuwaiti courts shall refer to the law of the State in which the marriage was completed, or the law of the nationality of either of both spouses. The law of nationality of either of both spouses must be considered in respect of the announcement or publishing of marriage.
ii) Expat Divorce in Kuwait
The law of nationality acquired by the spouses during marriage and before divorce, or before bringing the action of divorcing or separation, shall be applicable on divorce and separation. In the absence of this common nationality, the law of the husband at the time of marriage shall be applicable. This means that for a British expatriate couple living in Kuwait, it may be possible to apply English divorce laws within the Kuwaiti courts. However when one spouse is Kuwaiti, only Kuwaiti law may apply.
iii) Maintenance and alimony claims in Kuwait
For disputes related to alimony or child maintenance, the law of the nationality of the husband at the time of marriage shall be applied by the Kuwaiti courts.
iv) Child custody disputes involving expats in Kuwait
In child custody cases involving expatriates living in Kuwait, the law of nationality of the father shall be applied.
It is important to note that if either the husband or wife is a Kuwaiti citizen, then the Kuwaiti law shall only be applicable.
It is highly recommended that expatriates seeking advice on divorce or child custody in Kuwait, should seek assistance from a local attorney in Kuwait, as well as an attorney from their home country. The foreign attorney shall assist the local counsel with assuring that the valid foreign law is properly applied before the Kuwait courts.
This legal summary has been prepared by Najmah Brown of Al Adwani Law Firm in Kuwait. Ms Brown can be contacted for advice:
Al Adwani Law Firm
7th Floor, Injazat Tower, Khalid Ibn Al Waleed Street
Kuwait BusinessTown, Sharq, Kuwait City
Tel: (+965) 22 275 475
Fax: (+965) 22 275 470
Mobile: (+965) 65 526 311
P.O. Box 481 Safat 13005 Kuwait
E-mail: [email protected]
If you are a British expat residing in Kuwait, and are considering separation or divorce, or have queries about children law issues, please contact one of our lawyers at [email protected]. Our team regularly advise British expatriates living in Kuwait.