Divorce of foreigners in Portugal
We are often approached by clients of foreign nationality who want to know if they can get divorced in Portugal. As a rule, they are foreign citizens residing in Portugal and who have married in another country.
The rules governing the divorce of foreigners in Portugal are different depending on whether they are nationals of European Union countries or other countries. The relevant criterion, however, as we shall see, is the same in both cases.
Divorce of foreign nationals from non-EU countries
In Portugal resides a significant community of foreign nationals, married abroad, who intend to get their divorce in Portugal, avoiding travel to their homes countries for this reason. It is therefore important to know whether foreign citizens can obtain a divorce in Portugal, even if the marriage was celebrated in another country. Portuguese law allows the divorce of foreign citizens in Portugal, provided that at least one of the spouses is resident in Portugal. And it will be so even if the marriage was celebrated in another country and even if the other spouse does not reside in Portugal.This foreign nationals will be able to divorce in Portugal, even if their spouse is residing in another country and the marriage was celebrated abroad.
Divorce of foreign nationals from European Union countries
Portugal's membership of the European Union implies being subject to a series of regulations in force in the Union and, in the case of family relations, the EC Regulation 2201/2003, of 27 November, takes on special importance.
The Regulation also provides that the divorce of nationals of other countries may be decreed in the country of the spouses' habitual residence, or the country of last habitual residence if one of the spouses still resides there.
Thus, foreigners from European Union countries will be able to divorce in Portugal if this is the place of their usual residence or if it was the place of the last common residence, as long as one of them continues to be a resident this Country.
Types of Divorce
Divorce by mutual consent
Divorce with the consent of both spouses may be granted at a Civil Registry Office. For this, it is necessary to deliver the following formal agreements to the Conservatory:
- agreement on child custody and child support (child maintenance).
- agreement regarding the use of family home;
- agreement on spousal maintenance:
- agreement regarding pet animals;
- list of common assets.
The agreement regarding custody of children and child support will be sent to the Public Ministry for approval. The Public Ministry may allow the custody agreement or request changes.
After that, a conference will be scheduled, where the Conservador will ratify the different agreements and grant the divorce.
The Conservador may also if so requested, complete the couple’s asset division.
Divorce without consent
If there isn't an agreement, the divorce can only be granted by a court of law. For this purpose, the interested party will have to retain the services of a lawyer who will file the lawsuit.
Divorce may be granted on one or more of the following grounds:
- Separation for a year or more;
- Mental disability of the other spouse for more than a year;
- Absence of a spouse for more than a year;
- Any other facts that, regardless of spouses' fault, show the rupture of the marriage
After the trial, the court will grant the divorce.