Basics of filing for divorce in Puerto Rico

Posted by & filed under Marital Law.

Most people would rather not have to file for divorce.  However, you may eventually come to the conclusion that you can no longer continue your marriage for one reason or another. In this case, filing for divorce allows you the opportunity to legally separate from your spouse, divide assets, and decide on issues like custody, alimony, and child support.

Before you hire a divorce lawyer and study up on Puerto Rico real estate law, however, you might want to know what to expect when you begin divorce proceedings. Here are the basics of how filing for divorce works in Puerto Rico.

Requirements to File for Divorce

There are really only two main requirements if you want to file for divorce in Puerto Rico. First, you must meet residency requirements.  In other words, you must live in Puerto Rico for a minimum of one year before you can file a divorce petition.

Second, the grounds upon which you are filing for divorce must have occurred either in Puerto Rico or while at least one spouse was living in the country. If you meet these two basic criteria, then you should be able to file a petition for divorce.

Grounds for Divorce

There are many acceptable reasons to file for divorce in Puerto Rico.  Grounds include spousal or child abuse, alcohol or drug abuse, adultery, abandonment, incurable insanity, and long-term separation. Of course, if both parties agree to the divorce, mutual consent is also acceptable grounds, as is the “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage”, or as it is otherwise known, “irreconcilable differences”.

Filing and Service

If one spouse is seeking divorce from another, the party must file the petition for divorce with the court.  Afterwards a court official serves and notifies the other party. In cases of mutual consent, the parties seeking divorce must only file paperwork that specifies the arrangements for child custody/visitation, child support, and division of property and debts.

Divorce Proceedings

In the event that one spouse contests the petition of divorce, then divorce proceedings could go through several phases. During this process the spouse in disagreement can file his/her own paperwork to contest the divorce or contest specific conditions.  These contestations might include division of assets, alimony, child support, child custody, and so on.

Parties may have to consult with lawyers and attend court appearances to deal with their holdings such as real estate in Puerto Rico, financial accounts, pensions, and debts.  They must also agree upon child custody and financial support (for a spouse and/or children). Spouses may decide to negotiate and settle out of court or allow a judge to make a determination in court.

The main exception is when the contesting spouse fails to file paperwork or appear in court. In this case, the court may proceed with the divorce as though the spouse never uncontested the divorce.