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Brazilian Law Simplifies Process for Recognizing Foreign Divorces

Brazilian Law Simplifies Process for Recognizing Foreign Divorces

Divorce is a common legal proceeding, but completing the process becomes more complex when the marriage crosses international borders. If a couple marries in Brazil but subsequently divorces abroad, Brazilian law will not automatically recognize the divorce. In fact, a couple that divorces abroad and not in Brazil will still be considered married in Brazil. For a divorce to be recognized in Brazil, the parties must also complete a process within the Brazilian court system. The process can be lengthy and complicated, but now it is getting just a little easier.

A recent change in Brazilian law simplifies the process through which a divorce in another country secures recognition in Brazil. No longer must a foreign divorce be approved by the Superior Court of Justice in all cases. Now the process can be done more efficiently with a local notary office.

Previously, couples wishing to have their foreign divorce recognized in Brazil needed the Brazilian court’s approval. That approval followed a lengthy, multi-step process called homologation. The requirements for homologation include presenting a list of documents:

  • the marriage certificate;
  • a legalized copy of the original divorce;
  • documentation of any name changes since the divorce;
  • a signed statement from the former spouse agreeing with the divorce homologation; and
  • an official translation of all documents into Portuguese.

Each step becomes more difficult if a former spouse is uncooperative. In some cases, this process can take a year or more to complete.

The changes to Brazilian divorce law dispense with some of the prior legal requirements of homologization as long as the divorce is consensual. To register the divorce, an applicant must still submit official documents, but now these documents only need to be submitted to the civil registry office. The parties no longer need to have the divorce approved by the Superior Court of Justice.

It is important to emphasize that the new divorce rules apply only to cases involving consensual divorce. Divorces contingent on determining the custody of children, or other matters such as the division or sharing of property, continue to require approval by the court. The new rules should simplify the process of getting a foreign divorce recognized in Brazil, while also easing some of the burdens that divorce proceedings place on the judicial system.

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