Important Aspects of Family Law

Foreigners who wish to marry in the Dominican Republic must present an original and copy of their passport, a legalized and apostilled document certifying their single status issued by the country of origin, and their tourist card, residence card, or identity card, whichever is applicable.

The Dominican Civil Code regulates the financial relationship between spouses marrying in the Dominican Republic. The default marital property management system applicable to Dominican marriages is the community property, save the spouses have followed the legal procedure in order to adopt a different regime, such as separate property or community of gains.

Divorce in the Dominican Republic may be executed by mutual consent or due to a specific cause, such as irreconcilable differences, absence or home abandonment,  criminal conviction, physical abuse, alcoholism or drug addiction and cruelty or grave injury.

Dominican law has also instituted a special divorce procedure called “special or quick divorce”, which applies only to foreign individuals or Dominican citizens residing abroad, wishing to divorce by mutual consent. This procedure is characterized by how quickly it can be decided, registered, and published. It usually takes from one to four weeks to complete.

The National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI) is in charge of coordinating Dominican adoptions. A request for adoption must comply with the provisions of the International Convention for the Protection of Minors and other international measures in the interest of minors, and must comply with Dominican legal requirements.  Our legislation only contemplates the procedure called privileged adoption, which is irrevocable and awards the adopting parent with parental rights and the adopted child with the same rights as a legitimate child.

The following people may legally adopt children in the Dominican Republic:

  1. Dominican couples, married for at least three (3) years, and foreign couples, after at least five (5) years of marriage;
  2. Dominican couples, formed by one man and one woman, evidencing having lived together for at least five (5) consecutive years prior to the adoption process;
  3. Single individuals who have or have had the responsibility for the upbringing, care and education of a child or adolescent;
  4. A widower or widow, if the adoption process was initiated before the death of the spouse.
  5. Divorced or separated individuals, when the adoption procedure was initiated before the divorce or separation; and
  6. Grandparents, uncles and older siblings, grandchildren, nephews and younger brothers, whose father or mother or both parents are deceased and the adopters can ensure the well-being of their relatives

With respect to foreign individuals, and Dominicans residing abroad, all must deposit supporting documentation to show their suitability, similarly to those required for Dominicans living in the country.

The Dominican Civil Code establishes the rules and principles that apply to inheritances.  Estates must be divided equally among the surviving closest family members, who will inherit in the following order, in the understanding that individuals in a lower order will only inherit if there are no individuals in a higher order: In the first instance, immediate descendants will inherit; then, ascendants will inherit; then, privileged collaterals; then, collaterals; then, the surviving spouse, and finally, the State.

Dominican laws provide a mandatory reserve in favor of the descendants and ascendants of an individual, which limits the individual’s ability to dispose of all his/her estate through a will in favor of third parties. This legal reserve equals 50% of the estate if the individual has only one descendant or only ascendants; 66% of the estate if there are two descendants; and 75% if there are three or more.

After death, if the deceased was governed by Dominican law or if there are assets in the country, the law instructs the heirs to proceed with a "Probate Declaration" addressed the Directorate General of Internal Revenue corresponding to the last domicile of the deceased. After this step, the heirs can proceed with the proper allocation of rights and the partition of the property by a notary or a probate court in the event of conflict or if there are minors among the heirs.

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