How are property and finances divided during divorce proceedings in Portugal? What should non-Portuguese nationals know?

Portugal has a high divorce rate compared to the rest of the European Union; with 2.8 marriages ending in divorce per 1,000 persons. During divorce proceedings, the spouses will need to agree on the division of assets. This may include anything acquired during the marriage or existing assets that were obtained before the wedding.

This guide will examine what happens during a divorce petition in Portugal, and how property and financial assets are divided.

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How divorces are processed in Portugal, and what happens when a divorce is contested.

What happens during divorce in Portugal when property is involved, and how it is divided.

Discover how different assets, such as finances, are divided during a Portuguese divorce.

Find out the benefits of working with international lawyers when seeking a divorce in Portugal, and how to protect your assets.

Read the most frequently asked questions on dividing property and finances during divorce proceedings in Portugal.

What is the process of getting a divorce in Portugal?

The divorce process in Portugal may vary depending on certain factors. If the divorce has mutual consent and there are no children to consider, divorce in Portugal may approximately one month. This is achieved by the couple filing a joint petition at the Civil Registry Office (Conservatória do Registo Civil) and this is the preferred method of divorcing in Portugal as there is no reason to involve Portuguese courts. During this time, the couple will need to outline the following: the management of the foreclosed home, any child custody arrangements, maintenance payments, and how any land will be divided.

If an agreement cannot be made between the couple, a contested divorce will be required to go through Portuguese courts and is often a lengthy and complex process. These typically last at least six months to before finalising; one spouse must file an application, instruct a family lawyer, and wait for the date of the hearing.

Giambrone & Partners has a specialist team of multi-jurisdictional family lawyers to assist during divorce proceedings in Portugal. We can advise those involved in complicated, international divorce cases to help achieve the best possible outcome.

Learn more about how our divorce lawyers can help you in Portugal here.

How is property divided during Portuguese divorce proceedings?

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 division of property can be resolved on the same day. A second hearing (inventário) will be necessary if it is contested.

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Typically, during Portuguese divorce proceedings, the family home is the main property of concern. An agreement will be made regarding the occupancy, typically one spouse will have exclusive rights to live in the family home. The is property can be rented, jointly owned, or in the sole name of one spouse; it must be assigned to one of the spouses.

If the property belongs solely to one of the spouses, like the family home was bought prior to the marriage, the Portuguese courts can grant it to the other spouse. However, the judge will determine the amount of rent to be paid and the terms of the lease. Factors affecting this decision include consideration of the needs of both spouses and the children's best interests. There are any children of the marriage.

Contact our lawyers today to find out more about divorce in Portugal.

What should you know about the division of finances when divorcing in Portugal?

During a divorce by mutual consent, both parties must have agreed on ending the marriage. They must decide between themselves regarding spousal maintenance and the division of marital assets. However, even if the divorce is by mutual consent through the Civil Registry Office, Portuguese courts will make the final decision if financial division cannot be agreed upon.

Certain factors will be considered if spousal or child maintenance is Portuguese court's decision. This includes any professional qualifications of both parties and their and employment prospects of the spouse seeking maintenance.

Find out more about divorcing in Portugal here.

How can you protect your assets during a divorce in Portugal?

Divorce is invariably a difficult time. An individual can take steps to protect finances, marital and property assets in the event of divorce.

Pre-nuptial agreements

Pre-nuptial agreements protect certain assets before the marriage is legalised. This process is desirable for a spouse with large financial interests or assets involving a business or trust that were accrued prior to the marriage.

Instructing international lawyers who are qualified in Portuguese family law

If you are not a Portuguese national and wish to divorce through the that country's courts, it is important to seek legal advice. Working with international and multilingual lawyers can help you understand Portuguese family law and communicate with Portuguese courts through this difficult period.

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.

Frequently asked questions

What are the consequences of legal separation?

In Portugal, a legal separation is an alternative to a complete divorce. Although the marriage is not completely dissolved, as in a divorce, legal separation eliminates cohabitation and shared land obligations.

If you are considering filing for a legal separation in Portugal, seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Contact Giambrone & Partners today to find out how our divorce lawyers can help you.

What are the legal grounds for divorce in Portugal

When divorcing in Portugal, if the proceedings are not taken through Portuguese courts, the grounds do not need to be stated, for example, if the divorce is by mutual consent through the Civil Registry Office. However, in a contested divorce, the spouse will need to justify their decision on one of the following grounds:

  • Separation for more than one year
  • Desertion by one spouse for more than one year
  • Irretrievable breakdown
  • Severe mental health problems

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

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