Legal Options for Divorce in the Dominican Republic
Divorce by Mutual Consent
To divorce by mutual consent, the spouses are obliged, through an authentic separation agreement executed before a notary public, to:
- Make a formal inventory of their property, if any;
- If there are mutual children, agree which one is going to be in charge of taking care of them, both during the divorce and after the divorce is granted; and
- In the event of giving to the wife the charge of taking care of the children, the parties must agree where she and the children are going to live during the divorce and the amount of alimony to be paid by the husband.
Once the above three points have been completed, both parties (or their legal representatives) must appear before a Judge of First Instance with competent jurisdiction over their place of residence in the Dominican Republic. The parties must present to this judge copies of their marriage certificate, the birth certificates of any children, and their legal separation agreement. The judge will make sure that all the legal formalities have been met and will accept the request, setting a date for a hearing and granting the divorce after eight days from the date of the hearing.
In this divorce procedure the judge has to consent to the stipulations of the separation agreement agreed to by the parties, which may be amended only by the mutual consent of the spouses on the day of the hearing.
One or both of the spouses are obliged to register at the Office of the Civil State and Custodian of Mortgages the order granting the divorce. Within eight days after the divorce is granted, it needs to be pronounced by an Officer of the Civil State of the same jurisdiction of the court that heard the divorce. The pronouncement officially ends the marriage, and afterwards the order of divorce shall be published in a newspaper of national circulation and an issue of the newspaper must be deposited at the Office of the Court. This publication is the responsibility of both parties and a divorce is void if publication does not take place. At this point, the order granting the divorce is not appealable.
Divorce by Mutual Consent for U.S. Citizens
The special divorce is effective only for foreigners or Dominican citizens not resident in the Dominican Republic who are divorcing by mutual consent.
Just as in an ordinary divorce, and due to the fact that the spouses are getting divorced by mutual consent, the law requires that the parties reach a formal separation agreement relating to the division of their common property, the custody of any children born in the marriage, and any alimony and/or child support payments. This agreement shall be signed before a notary public of the non-Dominican jurisdiction where the spouses normally reside and duly certified by the Dominican Consulate closest to that domicile, so that it is valid under Dominican law. The separation agreement must expressly grant jurisdiction to a First Instance Judge.
The spouses shall be able to get a special divorce by mutual consent if at least one of the spouses personally appears at the hearing with the other represented by a special power of attorney. The appearing spouse shall present to the court identification, such as a passport, identity card, social security card, or driver's license.
The court shall require a copy of the marriage certificate and copies of the birth certificates of any children born in the marriage, dulylegalized and translated into Spanish if they were in any other languages.
Once the divorce has been authorized, the judge shall set a hearing within three days for the spouses to appear in court. Once the hearing is over, the court shall order the Office of the Government Attorney to give its opinion within three days and the judge shall proclaim the divorce in the following three days. In general, the procedure takes from eight to ten days, depending on the volume of work of the court, for the judgment to be ordered and then registered in the corresponding Office of the Civil State and Custody of Mortgages.
Once the judgment has been registered, the divorce shall be proclaimed by any Officer of the Civil State of the Jurisdiction of the court that heard the case. For such purpose it would be necessary to present a certified copy of the judgment, previously registered at the Civil Registrar’s Office, and dispositions of said judgment shall be published in a newspaper of national circulation.
It is important to note that for said judgment to be valid abroad it shall be certified in one of the Centers for Attention to the Citizens of the Attorney General’s office (Procuraduria) of the Dominican Republic, or at one of its Courts of Appeals, as well as at the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the Dominican Republic.
Source: Foreigner's Guide to the Dominican Republic, Law Firm of Pellerano and Herrera, 1997.