Getting Divorced In Costa Rica: Mutual Agreements And Court Procedures

by Quatro Legal Corporate Team | Mar. 30, 2024 | Article, Corporate

Calling it quits? Divorce can be challenging and emotionally charged but understanding the process in Costa Rica can empower you and make it smoother. It’s never easy, but hey, new beginnings await! Picture this: You’re sipping a piña colada on a Costa Rican beach, a fresh start on the horizon, the storm has passed, and you made it through. Navigating the legal side of things and understanding them can make the difficult, easier.


In what instances can you get a divorce according to Costa Rican regulation?

Here’s the deal: there are specific reasons why a judge can grant a divorce, known as “grounds for decreeing divorce.” It’s not just about a quick “adios” (although, wouldn’t that be simple?).

Now, the list might seem like a legal dictionary threw up, but don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you:

  1. Adultery committed by either of the spouses: If your partner gets caught straying, that’s grounds for divorce.
  2. Attempt by one of the spouses against the life of the other spouse or their children.
  3. Attempt by one of the spouses to prostitute or corrupt the other spouse and/or attempting or succeeding to corrupt their children: Trying to force your partner or kids into something harmful, like prostitution, is definitely a ground for divorce.
  4. Cruelty to the detriment of the other spouse or their children: Physical or emotional abuse towards you or your children is absolutely unacceptable and a valid reason to get a divorce.
  5. Judicial separation for a term of no less than one year, provided that there has been no reconciliation between the spouses during that period: If you and your partner have been legally separated for at least a year with no chance of reconciliation, that can lead to divorce.
  6. Legal declaration of the absence of one spouse: if your partner mysteriously disappears and is declared legally absent, you can get a divorce.
  7. Mutual consent of both spouses.
  8. De facto separation for a term of no less than three years: If you haven’t been living together for at least three years, that can also be a reason for divorce.
  9. Request by one of the parties due to the incompatibility of characters, after six months have elapsed from the celebration of the marriage: Basically, if you just don’t mesh after six months of trying, you can request a divorce based on irreconcilable differences.


Mechanisms of divorce in Costa Rica

There are two divorce mechanisms in Costa Rica:

  1. Mutual consent? This is the “easy route” of divorce. If you and your ex are on the same page about everything (kids, money, who gets the cat), you can head to a notary public and get a divorce by mutual agreement signed and sealed.
  2. Not on the same page? You can file a petition with the court based on any of the specific reasons listed above.


What constitutes a mutual agreement?

Divorce by mutual consent refers to those cases where you and your partner have decided to get a divorce, but the good news is you’re both on the same page and can agree on things like the division of marital assets, child custody and support arrangements. In this cases, mutual consent divorce is your golden ticket to a smoother split. Plus, it is much less time consuming and inexpensive.

What is the divorce process in the case of mutual agreement?

Mutual consent divorce is the express lane of ending your marriage in Costa Rica. It can be processed before a notary public, for which a divorce agreement is drawn up in a public deed that you both sign and you’re officially done without the added drama and pain.

The divorce agreement is like your roadmap to a fresh start, and it must contain the following points:

  1. Who will have personal custody of any minor children, if applicable. This shall imply visitation rights, conditions, and schedules.
  2. Which spouse will assume the obligation to support said children and the proportion in which they are obligated. Both parents have the obligations to support their children and provide for them according to their means.
  3. The establishment of the right or not to alimony between the spouses and the amount in which they are obligated. Alimony can be waived by both spouses.
  4. Decision on the ownership and distribution of the assets held in the estate of each spouse.

Relax, you don’t have to memorize all that. One of our lawyers can help you draft a rock-solid agreement that protects your rights and ensures everything is fair and square.

No kids, no stuff to divide? The deed will be presented directly to the Civil Registry of Costa Rica for approval and registration. If there are minor children or assets to be distributed, the divorce deed must be filed before a Family Court that will approve the process.

Don’t worry! Think of it as a formality to make sure everything’s fair and square for the kiddos and your bank accounts, and the lawyers will take care of it. The only other documents you need to send are your marriage certificate and IDs.


What is the divorce process if there is not mutual agreement?

If you and your ex can’t see eye-to-eye on ending the marriage, one of you can file a petition with the Family Court based on the reasons we mentioned earlier. We’ll dive deeper into the details of this legal court procedure in a future article.

Whether you’re going the amicable route or navigating the legal maze of a court process, understanding the basics is essential. And having a legal pro by your side? Priceless! Consulting with a reputable law firm in Costa Rica such as Quatro Legal can ensure that your rights are protected, and the divorce process is as smooth as possible. We can figure this out together.

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