Legal Magazine

Divorce in Brazil Between a Brazilian and a Foreigner

Posted on the 19 August 2014 by Angelicolaw @AngelicoLaw

The number of divorces in Brazil is on the rise. The latest numbers available from the IBGE statistics agency show that 351,153 couples got a divorce in 2011. That’s a surge of 46% in the number of couples that got a divorce in 2010.

It’s surprising to many that divorce only became legal in Brazil in 1977. And prior to 2010, Brazilians must have been separated for a full year with the approval of a judge before they could get divorced.

In 2010, Brazil passed a constitutional amendment that eliminated the waiting period and also removed the requirement for couples to give a reason for the divorce. It’s widely agreed that these significant changes are behind the rise in the divorce rate.

If you are a foreigner married to a Brazilian, there are several important things you need to understand about getting a divorce in Brazil.

Dissolving Foreign Marriages

Even though marriages formalized outside of Brazil are valid in Brazil when properly registered in Brazil, divorces filed outside of Brazil are not valid in Brazil.

There are two ways for a Brazilian and a foreigner to get a legal divorce in Brazil. The couple can either conduct their divorce proceeding in Brazil or they can have their foreign divorce homologized.

Divorces that take place abroad will only be recognized as valid in Brazil after they have gone through a judicial process in a Superior Court of Brazil called “homologação de sentença estrangeira”. After the foreign divorce has been homologized and has received official Brazilian approval, the new marital status of the formerly married couple will be recognized in Brazil.

Fortunately, it isn’t necessary for both parties to be present in Brazil. Foreigners can apply for a homologation by proxy with the assistance of a Brazilian lawyer. Working through a Brazilian consulate, a divorcing party can file an electronic petition to request a divorce homologation. Once the request has been approved by the Superior Court, the lawyer will then file it with the Civil Registry.

Required Documentation

The Brazilian lawyer who is handling the foreign divorce must have the following documents:

  • The marriage certificate;
  • A complete foreign sentence or declaration of divorce;
  • A written and notarized statement from the former spouse declaring that he or she approves of the divorce;
  • A document showing any post-divorce name changes;
  • A power of attorney granting the lawyer the power to apply for the homologation in Brazil.

Legalization of Foreign Documents

Before any of the required documents are sent to Brazil, they must be legalized. That’s because any document that originates outside of Brazil is required to be legalized by a Brazilian consulate. Legalization is a process by which documents are authenticated. Depending on the particular consulate, this process can be completed by mail or in person.

Once all of the required documents have been legalized and properly submitted, the remainder of the process can take anywhere from four to eight weeks to complete. Consult an attorney for more details and related costs.

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