Getting divorced in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is well known as a place where people can get a very speedy divorce. The local legislation calls it the Special Divorce Law , and it is available to foreigners, Dominicans who are married to a foreigner, or Dominicans whom are no longer a resident of the Dominican Republic. What's fast, you might ask? Believe it or not, it takes just one day.
Before deciding to visit the Dominican Republic for a Special Divorce, you should check with an Attorney/Solicitor/Lawyer/Notary, where you live, to ensure a Special Divorce performed in the Dominican Republic will be recognized legally where you live. For example, in the US, Divorce Law is governed by State, as opposed to Federal Law. Some US States will recognize a Special Divorce done in the Dominican Republic, others will not. Once you've confirmed a Special Divorce will be legally recognized where you live, and as long as both Spouses are in agreement to get divorced, only one Spouse must visit the Dominican Republic to go through the process. Special Divorces can only be carried out in the capital city, Santo Domingo. The Spouse should give him or herself at least two days in Santo Domingo to ensure they have enough time to take care of all of the required details.
In Santo Domingo the Spouse must secure an Attorney/Law Office to represent them. Once they've provided the Attorney with the information required (including an affidavit from the non-attending Spouse indicating they agree to a divorce), the Attorney will register the documents with the Courts for a hearing. The Courts close at 12 PM (noon) each day, so if the Attorney is able to register early in the morning, the hearing will likely take place that day. If not, the hearing will likely take place the following morning. The Courts hold hearings everyday except Sundays and Dominican Republic holidays.
The divorce hearing must be attended by one of the Spouses and an Attorney, and time-wise, it takes just five to ten minutes. Once the ruling has been given by the court, the Spouse's need to be in Santo Domingo is finished. From that point, the Court will type up the ruling and have it recorded at the Registry. For the ruling to be valid outside of the Dominican Republic (assuming your country of origin recognizes the Dominican Republic's Special Divorce Law), the ruling must be certified in the Dominican Republic's Office of the Attorney General, the Foreign Relations Ministry, and the Embassy or Consulate of the country (or countries) of where the divorce should be valid. Ensure that the authentication of the final Decree of Divorce, with translations by an official government translator, is part of the services provided by the Attorney/Law Office you've hired.
This process can take anywhere from ten days to three weeks time. Once this is completed the Attorney/Law Office can forward the completed paperwork to one or both of the Spouses.
If the Spouse getting the Special Divorce is doing so in order to get re-married in the Dominican Republic, they will need to wait until the Divorce Decree is registered before remarrying. This usually means a wait of at least 24 hours. If you plan on getting re-married in the Dominican Republic, please visit our Getting Married section of this site.