A court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has ruled that a woman whose husband had a child through surrogacy without her knowledge or consent, is not the child's mother.
The Indian couple had been married 15 years and were living in the UAE. In 2015, following unsuccessful fertility treatment, the woman discovered that her husband was pursuing surrogacy in India without consulting her.
'He used the womb of another woman and the egg of another woman without my permission for fertilisation,' she said in her court statement.
Following the discovery, she applied for divorce in India, but the husband would only agree on the condition that she signed consent forms for the surrogacy arrangement. The Indian court refused to grant a divorce.
Following the child's birth in March 2016, the husband became abusive, according to the wife's testimony. He moved to India with the child, taking the couple's valuables. He then informed his wife that she was named on the child's birth certificate as the biological mother.
The wife then applied to Dubai's Personal Status Court for a divorce, financial provision and for her name to be removed as the child's mother from the birth certificate.
The woman testified that she has no biological relationship to the child. On hearing the wife's application, the court requested that the husband submit the child for DNA testing. After he refused to do so, the court ruled in the wife's favour, finding that she was not the child's parent and that her name should be removed from the birth certificate.
Surrogacy is prohibited by law in the UAE, and the husband's request that the court apply Indian law was refused. He argued that his wife had originally been supportive of the surrogacy arrangement, but had a change of heart as the pregnancy progressed.
The wife's lawyer, Awatif Mohammad Khouri, told the court, 'Although the Indian law can be applied in several cases in the UAE, it cannot in this specific case because surrogacy is against the laws and public morals of the country'.
However, the court also went further, asserting that even if the woman's egg had been used, she still would not be the legal parent because 'surrogacy does not prove lineage of a child'.
This case is understood to be the first of its kind in the UAE and is likely to have implications for other UAE-based families who access surrogacy in other jurisdictions.