A full guide to divorcing in Portugal as a foreign national

Regardless of whether you are a Portuguese citizen or a foreign national, you can divorce in Portugal as long as one party has a strong connection to the country. Divorce is a stressful time, which is only amplified when there is an international element to consider.

This guide summarises all the information in our getting a divorce in Portugal hub, and outlines the importance of instructing multilingual and multijurisdictional Portuguese lawyers (Advogados) to aid the divorce proceedings.

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How to divorce in Portugal

In Portugal, there are three types of divorce. By mutual agreement is the fastest and most favoured for getting a divorce in Portugal, which is processed through a Civil Registry Office. There is also by mutual consent in court if some issues cannot be resolved.

A contested divorce, on the other hand, is a more drawn-out procedure that takes place in the Portuguese courts. For this, you will need legal representation to advise you on your best options when seeking a divorce in Portugal.

Find out more about divorce in Portugal and your options with our expert guide here.

Giambrone & Partners have a team of Portuguese family lawyers (Advogados) with multilingual and multijurisdictional capacity. We can ensure that you are informed on and understand Portuguese laws if you are a foreign citizen.

We will also advise you on your options, and provide expert guidance on what documents you need to prepare to get a divorce in Portugal.

Contact our Portuguese lawyers for assistance today.

What are the grounds for divorce in Portugal?

The grounds for divorce in Portugal are provided under the Portuguese Civil Code, which is the law that governs all civil matters, including marriage. If you wish to get a divorce in Portugal – it is important to be aware of these grounds, and what is required to get a divorce.

The reason for the divorce does not need to be outlined in divorce by mutual consent. This is only in contested divorces, which require a court hearing, where the spouse who has filed for divorce will need to present one of the following grounds:

  • The couple has been separated for at least one year.

  • If one spouse has poor mental health, which has impacted the relationship.

  • Desertion by one spouse for a period of one year

  • Irretrievable breakdown for any reason.

Find out more about the grounds for divorce in Portugal with our expert guide here.

Can I divorce in Portugal as a non-resident?

Regardless of whether the marriage was enacted in another country, or if one spouse does not reside in Portugal, non-Portuguese nationals married to a Portuguese citizen can seek a divorce through its courts with sufficient connection to Portugal. However, at least one of the spouses must be a Portuguese resident.

Find out more about how foreign nationals can divorce in Portugal with our expert guide here.

What is the Portuguese law on divorce and jurisdiction?

When there are different nationalities involved in the divorce, it is important to consider certain elements which will determine the jurisdiction where the divorce will be finalised. The divorcing couple cannot choose any country, and there must be a legitimate connection to the jurisdiction.

Despite not living in the country, the ability to choose jurisdiction can be determined by the couple's domicile links. This includes where a person was born and brought up, and whether they still have connections to the country; for example, a pension, property, or a bank account.

Even if you are not a Portuguese national by birth, proving that you have a sufficient connection to the country will assist when making a choice as to the jurisdiction.

Find out more about divorce and jurisdiction in Portugal with our expert guide here.

What are the rules of child support in Portugal?

When there are minor children involved, divorce proceedings are overseen by the Public Prosecution Service in Portugal. They will verify the agreements and certify conclusions regarding the children and each parent's responsibilities.

In Portugal, children can receive child support until they are 25. Joint custody (guarda partilhada) is favoured over sole custody (guarda única), as Portuguese law states that both parents should share responsibilities regarding the child's education and well-being.

During divorce proceedings, the amount of child support should be agreed upon by both parties. If an agreement cannot be made and is contested, the matter will be taken to Portuguese courts to decide in the best interests of the child or children involved.

Find out more about child support rules in Portugal with our expert guide here.

How are property and finances divided in Portugal?

When getting a divorce in Portugal, property is not divided during the divorce proceedings, and is only decided once the divorce has been granted. If there is a mutual agreement between the spouses, the property division can be resolved on the same day. A second hearing (inventário) will be necessary if it is contested.

To protect your assets in case of a divorce in Portugal, consider drafting a pre-nuptial agreement before the marriage is legalised.

Find out more about property and financial division in Portugal with our expert guide here.

Giambrone & Partners is an international law firm that operates in various jurisdictions, such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Our divorce lawyers will always act in your best interests, and can help protect your assets when divorcing in Portugal.

Contact our international divorce lawyers today.

What is the law on legal separation in Portugal?

In some instances, an alternative to divorce may be suggested or preferred by the couple. Divorce alternatives include; an annulment (nulidade do Casamento), which can void the marriage and is preferred by couples who are Catholic; mediation (mediação familiar), which lasts around three months; and legal separation.

In Portugal, legal separation may be preferable if there is a possibility of reconciliation. In these cases, the couple has up to a year after separation, where they can decide whether divorce is necessary.

How can you contest a divorce in Portugal?

If either party is in dispute regarding the divorce, the proceedings must go through the Portuguese courts. The partner requesting the divorce must present reasons why they are seeking a divorce, including the reason and why the marriage has broken down. The evidence with supporting documentation, where applicable, will need to be presented to the Portuguese courts.

The local office of the Family Proceedings Court in Portugal deals with contested issues. If you contest the divorce or certain terms and conditions arising from the divorce, this can take at least six months to finalise.

Find out more about how to contest a divorce in Portugal with our expert guide here.

As a contested divorce must go through Portuguese courts, you should seek legal advice from an international Portuguese divorce lawyer (Advogado) who can represent you throughout the proceedings.

Contact Giambrone & Partners today for more information.

What documents do you need to get divorced in Portugal?

When filing for divorce in Portugal, certain documentation will be required, which may need translating if it is not drafted in Portuguese. The following documents are required for divorce in Portugal:

  • The marriage certificate (certidão do registo de casamento)

  • Written request that they want a divorce

  • Agreement on an itemised list regarding jointly held goods signed by both parties (relação especificada dos bens comuns)

  • Prenuptial agreement (certidão da convenção antenupcial)

  • Property and other asset division

  • Spousal maintenance

  • Child custody

Giambrone & Partners is an international law firm that operates in various jurisdictions, including Spain, Italy and Portugal. Our multilingual lawyers can communicate with you in your own language, be in contact with Portuguese courts, and provide family law advice with your best interests in mind.

Contact Giambrone & Partners today for information on divorcing in Portugal.