Can I apply for a variance of a UK court order in Brazil?


I am a British citizen with permanent residency living here in Brazil, married to a Brazilan citizen. I have a child from a brief relationship in the UK with a British Citizen. I have a UK court order which allowed me to bring my son here to live.

I wish to vary the court order now due to a change in circumstances, my husband has lost his job, my sons biological father has stopped paying maintenance and refuses to come and see him here. Even though I have offered to pay for his trip. I agreed to take my son back twice a year but this is now going to be very difficult and I wish to change it to once per year for a longer visit instead, to cut down the costs of travel etc.

I was of the understanding that I could apply for a variance through the court here but I was told yesterday that I have to go back to do this in the UK as the law has changed here for foreigners. It contradicts everything I've read about the situation when you move here and that you fall under the jurisdiction of Brazil. Can anyone shed any light on this for me?

Hello Peewee B,

No, it doesn't contradict what you've read, you just misunderstood what you've read.

While here in Brazil you clearly are subject to all of the Brazilian criminal and civil laws, just as you would be wherever you go.

You are subject to a foreign Court Order, that is legally binding in UK, and if registered with the courts here in Brazil under a process called "Homologação da Sentença Estrageira de Divorcio" can even be enforced here in Brazil.

If the Order is not registered here in Brazil, you aren't going to be subjected to any penalties here in Brazil even if you are in violation of the Order. If your child's father is in violation of the Order by virtue of non-payment of Court Ordered child support it is highly unlikely that he's going to go to all the trouble of registering the Order here just to force you to return to the UK twice a year. At any rate even if he did, you would have the right to representation in Brazil and his claims would probably be laughed out of Court since he is also in violation.

That said, if you want to vary the existing UK Order, the only place that you can do that is in the UK. Brazilian Courts have no means of making Extraterritorial Orders, just as the UK has no such authority. It is all a matter of international reciprocity, and applying for enforcement of a foreign Order.

Exactly how long have you resided in Brazil? If you've had your permanency for more than one year, you can apply for Ordinary Naturalization with a reduced waiting period of 1 year residency, as opposed to 4 years others who are not married to a Brazilian citizen or don't have a Brazilian child. If you've lived here for more than 4 years you can also apply for naturalization for you child. If you are both citizens then the child's father could huff and puff until he's blue in the face, but there is virtually nothing he could do here in Brazil.

If you don't plan on returning to the UK, where you would be subject to the Order, I'd really suggest applying for citizenship for yourself and your child, then tell the father to take a hike. Since he's stopped paying child support, it's highly unlikely he'll be conscience stricken and miraculously start paying again, so you won't be losing anything to tell him to take a long walk off a short pier. Why should you worry about catering to somebody who is already a "deadbeat dad?"

James    Expat-blog Experts Team

Thanks for your advice James.

We have been living here for 3 years and I have another child, who is 12 months old, with my Brazilian husband born here in Brazil.

Ideally I don't wish to end contact with the biological father for the sake of my 8 year old son. He wouldn't understand. All I wanted to do was make one trip instead of two to save the cost of travel whilst my husband is looking for more work.

But I appreciate your advice and quick response. You've helped shed light!

Have you tried negotiating with him about the issue? Perhaps if he understands your situation then he might be willing to be a bit flexible regarding frequency and length of the visits.

If he decides to play hardnosed, then you could always tell him that you have no qualms about applying for Brazilian citizenship for yourself and his child, in which case there is nothing he could do to force his will on you since the Courts here would not enforce an foreign Order against a citizen and that would mean you could even deny him all access if you chose to do so. That might be just the wake-up call he needs.

Sorry to make a personal observation because I don't know the man, but it sounds like he's just being a jerk about this whole thing. What's his excuse for not paying child support?

James    Expat-blog Experts Team

There's no way to negotiate with him unfortunately. It's a difficult situation. It's very interesting info you said about becoming a citizen. I can send you a personal message with more info if you like but I shouldn't post it on the forum.

Yes, feel free to contact me in our Private Message System. I'll give you all the information that I can.

I'm the father of 5 sons and daughters, 4 now adults back in Canada and an 8 year old Brazilian son. I was divorced for many years before I came to Brazil and paid support for all of my kids. I never missed or was late with a payment, even though their mother would make visitation almost impossible at every turn. But, I really hate deadbeat dads who put themselves and their own needs ahead of those of their children.

James     Expat-blog Experts Team