By Jose Santiago
March 29, 2010

In Brazil, a divorce can only be filed after one year of the Judgment or the Public Deed of Separaão” or Separation of the couple, meaning only once the couple has been legally separated for more than one year can the parties file. In some cases if the couple can prove that they have been living apart from more than two (2) years consecutively they can get automatically divorced, without having to be first separated.

While separated, the parties cannot legally marry again in any state nor in any country, otherwise the Brazilian Courts can impose sanctions on the parties.

Before January 5, 2007 in order to get separated or divorced a couple was always required to hire an attorney and go to the Court System which has always been very bureaucratic and slow, this was mandatory even if it was amicable. However, since then, the Law Number 11.441/2007 created a much cheaper and faster solution, an extra-judicial separation or divorce, meaning the parties do not have to file a lawsuit and go throughout the Judicial process. Nonetheless, the parties must still hire at least one common attorney, which, in this case, is called the Single Intervenient Attorney.

This is how it works: if the couple has no minor nor incapable offspring and has agreed in the dissolution of their marriage and its terms (settlement), you can hire a single or common attorney and a public notary who will act together and execute a Public Deed of Separation or Divorce, which can be achieved in a few days only.

For foreign nationals that live outside Brazil, there is an even better option, you can get your Separation or Divorce through a Power of Attorney. I have already worked in several Separations via Power of Attorney, in other words, parties do not have to be present in Brazil for their Separation nor their Divorce in such cases. Basically they only must retain a single attorney, issue Power of Attorneys, and share all the related costs.

Please note that Congress is currently working on a new law which will end the waiting period to get a divorce, and also end the separation procedure once for all, which will allow couples to get their divorce directly.

Jose C. Santiago
Attorney at Law
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