How can foreigners contest a divorce in Portugal? What should non-Portuguese nationals know?

In Portugal, there are two types of divorce; either by mutual consent or contested. The Portuguese courts prefer divorces by mutual consent and the process is much simpler and quicker. However, the associated issues involved such as the division of property and finances in a Portuguese divorce, if they cannot be agreed by the parties involved will have to be decided by the courts.

This guide will explore how contested divorces operate in Portugal, and what non-Portuguese nationals should consider, including working with international divorce lawyers (Advogados).

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The grounds for divorce in Portugal, and when proceedings must go through Portuguese courts.

What happens during divorce proceedings, and how a spouse can contest a divorce in Portugal.

Read about the necessary documentation to contest a Portuguese divorce.

Find out why you should work with international lawyers (or Advoagdos) during a Portuguese divorce.

Read the most common queries that involve contesting a divorce in Portugal.

What are the grounds for divorce in Portugal?

If a couple is divorcing by mutual agreement, they do not have to give a reason for the divorce in Portugal. This also means that uncontested divorce proceedings do not have to go through the Portuguese court; the divorce will be processed through the Civil Registry Office. This option requires the partners to agree on all matters that must be settled between the couple, including assets and any child access and support matters in Portugal.

Young married couple going through relationship problems

For contested divorces, one of the following reasons will need to be given provided to justify the decision:

  • When both parties have been separated for one calendar year

  • If one of the parties is suffering from poor mental health

  • If one of the parties leaves the matrimonial home and remains absent for over one year or more

  • Any other variable that proves the marriage has irretrievably broken down, irrespective of blame

Find out more about the legal grounds for divorce in Portugal here.

How to contest a divorce in Portugal

If either party is in dispute regarding the divorce, the proceedings will need to be go through the Portuguese courts. The partner requesting the divorce will need to 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 6 six months to finalise.

In contested divorces, the judge will book a meeting to discuss reconciliation or to change the terms of the divorce to by mutual consent. The person contesting has 30 days to respond after receiving a notice from the court to present their reasons for contesting the divorce.

If agreement has not been possible, the judge will schedule a court hearing and both spouses must present evidence to support their case. The court then will assess the legal grounds for divorce and issue a verdict based on the evidence presented by each party. Typically, the judge will make a final decision within 30 days.

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

Contact Giambrone & Partners today for more information.

Find out more about how to divorce in Portugal with this full guide.

Which documents are required in a contested a divorce in Portugal?

When divorcing in Portugal, both spouses, and the lawyers representing them, must present documentation that supports their reasons for the divorce (or why they are contesting certain aspects of the proceedings). This includes:

  • Challenging the initial petition.

  • Cross-examining any witnesses that will be called.

  • Presenting evidence to prove the facts alleged in the initial petition and defence.

Working with international family lawyers will ensure that this process runs as smoothly as possible and provide you with an understanding of the necessary Portuguese laws relating to divorce.

Find out more about family law in Portugal here.

What may be considered in a contested divorce?

The factors may be contested during divorce proceedings. All assets acquired during the marriage that must be divided, such as property and finances.

Mediation in Divorce

Throughout the Portuguese divorce proceedings, either partner can request mediation (mediação familiar). This is a meeting with a qualified mediator to help determine the best approach to obtain resolution, and help the parties to reach an agreement on contested issues.

The mediation process may last up to three months and is intended to assist with the more difficult elements during the proceedings in Portugal. Each spouse must pay a single fee of €50, unless it is the Portuguese court that requests the mediation.

Spousal maintenance and alimony

This aspect of the proceedings is decided by a range of aspects, including the duration of the marriage, income or potential income of each spouse relating to the professional qualifications, age and health of the couple, and if there are any minor children of the marriage.

Instructing a family lawyer

In contested Portuguese divorces, a lawyer (or Advogados) will be required to be appointed. Giambrone & Partners provides a full range of legal services for Portuguese family law, and will guide and advise you through the divorce proceedings in Portugal. Our international lawyers are English-speaking and will obtain the best outcome during this difficult time.

Contact Giambrone & Partners today to find out more about contested divorces.


Frequently asked questions

Should you make a Portuguese will for your assets?

It is recommended that if you have assets in Portugal and the United Kingdom, you should create a will to clarify both who are to be your beneficiaries and under which jurisdiction they are to be administered, as each country has differing laws regarding the disposal of an estate.

Our expert inheritance and wills lawyers can guide and advise you in protecting your estate and ensuring that your chosen beneficiaries will inherit as you intended without any problems.

Find out more about wills and probate in Portugal here.

How are joint finances and property typically divided in a Portuguese divorce?

Property is not divided in Portugal in relation to divorce procedures; this decision is made after the divorce has been granted. Property and financial division can occur on the same day if both spouses agree, and no asset is contested.

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