How to go about getting a divorce in the Dominican Republic

Getting divorced in the Dominican Republic
Updated 2024-04-17 08:03

The Dominican Republic offers a number of types of divorce, the most common of which are divorce by mutual consent and divorce for incompatibility. Neither party has to appear in court for the latter, and for the former, one party may be represented by his or her legal counsel.

You need to follow several steps to get a divorce in the Dominican Republic. Firstly, you need to prepare a petition for the court. Your attorney needs a copy of your passport (if you're foreign) and your marriage certificate (if you're Dominican). Following notarization, the documents are submitted to the court and await the hearing date. Once the hearing has concluded, the sentence is typed up and filed with the Civil Registry, managed by the Junta Central Electoral. An official from the Civil Registry pronounces the verdict that officially ends the marriage after 60 days when either party can appeal the judgment. A national newspaper must publish the decision within 8 days; if not, your divorce is invalid.

Until recently, divorced women could not marry again until 10 months after their final divorce unless the new husband was the same man from whom she separated – to ensure that she was not pregnant by her ex-husband when she remarried. Fortunately, that law is no longer in place.

Divorce by mutual consent

A divorce by mutual consent requires 2 years of marriage and that both spouses are under 60 years of age. This latter requirement is probably in order to prevent older men from running off with younger women. Even if you don't fit into this category, don't worry. You can still get divorced for other reasons.

Consider the case of mutual divorce. As such, you would need to make a separation agreement in front of a notary public that outlines how the property will be divided, who will be responsible for the children, and how much child support will be required. You can skip this step if you do not own property and do not have children.

Following that, there is the court hearing, at which you can either appear in person or hire a legal representative. Please provide a legalized copy of the marriage certificate, the separation agreement, and the children's birth certificates. Once the judge has verified everything is correct, a date will be set for the hearing.

Divorce for other reasons

In the absence of mutual consent, you can divorce for other reasons. These include:

  • Incompatibility of personality: This encompasses various factors such as lack of sexual relations, one party being homosexual, or refusal to have children;
  • Adultery: If one spouse commits adultery, it can be grounds for divorce;
  • Criminal conviction: Except for political crimes, a criminal conviction can serve as grounds for divorce;
  • Abandonment of the home: If one spouse abandons the marital home without justification, it can be considered grounds for divorce;
  • Physical or mental abuse: Any form of physical or mental abuse inflicted by one spouse on the other can be grounds for divorce;
  • Habitual drunkenness: If one spouse demonstrates a pattern of habitual drunkenness, it can be grounds for divorce;
  • Drug addiction: Similar to habitual drunkenness, drug addiction exhibited by one spouse can also be considered grounds for divorce.

If you have requested a divorce, you must summon your spouse to appear at a hearing where you or your legal representative present the documents to support your claim. If the other party does not turn up, the hearing will continue as long as there is a witness to the situation of the marriage. In the end, neither person needs to be there. Let's say there are children involved, and there's no agreement on what's happening with them. In this case, the judge will order that all children up to 4 years of age stay under the mother's care unless there are exceptional circumstances and children over 4 years of age stay with the parent who initiated the divorce.

How long does the process take?

Divorces require, on average, half a year. Yet, you can separate in the Dominican Republic in the event that one of you has connections to the nation, for example, being Dominican. Assuming you are the two outsiders and the main link to the nation is that you are wedded here, you can't get a separation here.

Additionally, a type of separation exists, additionally called "a vapor", which means a “steam separation”. This type of separation occurs in only one day. In general, it is used by people who are not married to locals. You show up in Santo Domingo, meet your attorney, and go to court, and the following day you are separated. You must be cautious about how your separation is perceived by your occupant/home country; not all US states will recognize it. Typically, an administration will accept a divorce, assuming the two parties are present during the trial. Be aware that this type of divorce comes at a higher price than a regular one.

How much does a divorce cost?

Depending on the lawyer used, the divorce cost usually ranges from USD 800 to USD 1,000. Once the divorce has been finalized and the divorce certificate has been issued, the document must be apostilled and translated before it can be used internationally.

The requirements vary by country, but it is critical to have a copy of the court verdict, apostilled and translated, as well as proof that the advertisement appeared in a newspaper.

Useful link:

US Embassy in the Dominican Republic – Divorce

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