International Divorce & Family Law: Portugal
The divorce rate in Portugal is around 70%. Even though the rate is high it has actually decreased in recent years. We advise clients with a connection to Portugal on a wide range of family law matters, including divorce and child arrangements following separation or divorce.
If you were married in Portugal or you or your spouse lived in Portugal during your marriage or there is some other link to the country it’s important to get legal advice on your divorce. You may be able to divorce in more than one country. Because the law differs between jurisdictions, the country you or your spouse choose to begin divorce proceedings in could make a difference to your final divorce settlement and where your children live.
Here are some of the aspects of Portuguese divorce law you should be aware of:
Grounds For Divorce In Portugal
Portuguese law allows for divorce to be by agreement or contested. A divorce that is mutually agreed requires you and your spouse to agree on key matters such as finances and childcare. Even where you agree child arrangements the Pubic Prosecution Service will review the terms you have settled on with your spouse to ensure they are in the best interests of the children.
If the divorce is contested a meeting with a family court judge will be arranged to see if reconciliation is possible or you can reach a settlement agreement. If no progress toward a settlement is made a hearing will be held for the court to decide matters. Grounds for contested divorce in Portugal are:
- One year separation
- Mental health issues of one party
- Desertion of one year
- Irretrievable breakdown irrespective of blame
Finances And Portuguese Divorce
The community property regime applies in Portugal unless the couple have chosen another way to hold property. This means unless things are altered in a prenuptial or other agreement any property acquired during the marriage is divided equally on divorce. Property brought to the marriage by either side will remain separate.
The terms of any financial settlement may be backdated to the date the couple separated and divorce courts in Portugal have a specific power to rent the family home to one spouse whether or not it is jointly owned.
A range of considerations apply when deciding maintenance, including the professional qualifications and employment prospects of the spouse seeking maintenance. Importantly the spouse seeking maintenance does not have the right to demand that she or he be maintained to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
Brookman advises Portuguese nationals and UK nationals and individuals with other connections to Portugal seeking a UK divorce. Our clients often prefer to have their divorce heard in England and Wales but they must start their case before the other party issues a divorce petition in Portugal. Usually the first country to receive a request to start divorce proceedings will have the power to make all decisions on finance, children and maintenance.
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