Recently, the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice confirmed that Costa Rican courts may have jurisdiction to process divorces of marriages registered in Costa Rica, even if the spouses are domiciled abroad.
In judgment 226-2023, the Second Chamber heard an appeal in which the former spouses claimed that the Costa Rican courts had jurisdiction to process their divorce by mutual consent.
In the specific case, both the First Family Court of the First Judicial Circuit of San José and the Family Appeals Court had ruled that they lacked jurisdiction to process a divorce by mutual consent of a couple domiciled in the United Kingdom. This marriage was officiated and registered in Costa Rica.
The Supreme Court concluded that both the Family Court and the Family Appeals Court had erred in their conclusion since Costa Rican courts have jurisdiction to process these petitions. In its analysis, the Supreme Court indicated that
“[…] the legal relationship is international in nature because the marital home was located in the United Kingdom, while one of the parties is an English national. As said State is not part of the agreement of the Private International Law Code (“Bustamante Code”), its rules are not applicable, but only those of the Civil Procedure Code of 1989. Although there is no express and formal agreement on the case record submitting the homologation of the divorce agreement by mutual consent to the Costa Rican courts, tacit consent can be derived from the mere fact that both parties have jointly filed the lawsuit before a family court in Costa Rica. As there is no domicile in Costa Rican territory for any of the parties, then the request ought to be heard by the family court of San José assigned in turn, in accordance with article 24, fourth paragraph, of the Civil Procedure Code. In conclusion, the competence of the First Family Court of the First Judicial Circuit of San José to hear a request of divorce by mutual consent is affirmed.”
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M.Sc. Ana Isabel Sibaja Rojas
CELIG – Center for Equal Litigation