Sharia law, the divine law in Islam, is the bedrock foundation for all Omani law. The Basic Law of the Sultanate of Oman promulgated by Royal Decree No. 101/1996, sets forth the fundamental principles which guide the Sultanate’s laws and policies. In Article 2, the Basic Law states that “The religion of the State is Islam and the Islamic Sharia is the basis of legislation”.
At a practical level, however, Sharia law in Oman is manifested principally in family law matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. This article provides a summary on the applicable laws and regulations governing the divorce between expats resident in Oman.
Divorce in Oman is regulated by the Personal Status Law promulgated by Royal Decree No. 32/97. The Personal Status Law differentiates between Muslim and non Muslim expats.
Article 82 of the Personal Status Law permits Muslim men to divorce their spouses by declaring the word (Tallaq) to the wife or by using any other word that indicates a desire to nullify the marriage. The husband can attend in person at the Notary Public with the original marriage certificate and two witnesses, without the presence of the wife, and register the divorce. The Notary Public shall issue the husband with certified Arabic copies of the divorce certificate.
A Muslim woman who desires to divorce her husband and the husband does not voluntarily agree to the divorce has to submit a claim to the Omani Courts requesting the Courts to nullify the marriage specifying a valid reason pursuant to Articles 98 to Articles 114 of the Personal Status Law, for example, mental or sexual illness, desertion, physical or financial damage caused by the husband. If the Omani Courts are in agreement with the stated reasons they shall issue a Court order nullifying the marriage and the Muslim woman will then be able to secure a divorce certificate from the Notary Public pursuant to the Court order.
Pursuant to Articles 94 to Articles 97 of the Personal Status Law, a Muslim woman may also claim a divorce from her husband through the Omani Courts by offering to compensate the husband for the nullification of the marriage contract. The Omani Courts have the discretion to decide the compensation amount based on the marriage period and the dowry.
In respect to non Muslims, if the parties agree to the divorce then they can attend in person at the Notary Public with the original marriage certificate and two witnesses and register the divorce. The Notary Public shall issue the parties with certified Arabic copies of the divorce certificate.
If either a non Muslim man or a non Muslim woman desires to divorce and the other party does not voluntarily agree to the divorce, they can submit a claim at the Omani Court to request the nullification of the marriage. Pursuant to Articles 282 of the Personal Status Law the parties can select to apply the Personal Status Law or their own national laws.