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Registration in Costa Rica of divorces granted by foreign courts

At CELIG we understand that it is likely that many same-sex couples contracted marriage in other countries before the entry into force of equal marriage in Costa Rica. Now that equal marriage is in force in the country, it is likely that some couples have registered their marriage in our country at some point, but are now interested in registering the dissolution of their marriage in Costa Rica by virtue of a judgment handed down by a foreign court. In this blog we analyze a recent case of the Supreme Court that addresses this point.

When a person wants a judgment issued by a foreign court to have legal effects in Costa Rica, s/he can do so through the exequatur process. In the case of divorce proceedings, the competent body for this procedure is the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court. This was precisely the type of process that the Chamber heard in its judgment 715-2022.

One of the parties requested the homologation of their divorce ordered by a court in Sweden. The legislation of that country allows marriage dissolution if only one of the parties requests it, without the need for providing cause – as currently occurs in Costa Rica, where the party must justify it in adultery, abuse or any other reason established in the law. The Second Chamber established that, although divorce without cause is not contemplated in Costa Rican legislation, «Thus, regardless of the grounds invoked or the legal basis of the decision made in that country, the truth is that the procedural rights of both parties were upheld and both were given sufficient opportunity to refer to the matter. Likewise, it should be noted that, in this particular case, there is no discussion of community property or minors, so there is no interest to protect in this regard. In the absence of a manifest contradiction with the Costa Rican international public order, what corresponds is to grant recognition to the divorce order and order its execution, by means of communication to the Civil Registry for its registration”.

Taking this precedent into account, couples who are in a similar situation could process the exequatur of their divorce ordered by a foreign court in Costa Rica.

At CELIG we provide specialized services to the LGBTQI+ community. If you want more information or make an appointment with us, call us at 4800-0248/2245-0855 or write to info@celigcr.com.

We are located in San José, Barrio Escalante.

M.Sc. Ana Isabel Sibaja Rojas

CELIG – Center for Equal Litigation