Getting a divorce in Ecuador can be a complex process, especially for expats who may not be familiar with the country's laws and procedures. This article provides an overview of this process in Ecuador, including the grounds for divorce, residency requirements, and how to file for one. We will also touch on issues related to property division and child custody.
If you are an expat living in Ecuador and are considering getting a divorce, it is important to understand the laws and procedures that apply in Ecuador can be quite different to those in North America.
Ecuador is a civil law country, and its divorce laws are governed by the Civil Code. In order to file for divorce in Ecuador, at least one of the spouses (man or woman) must be a resident of the country. Important to note that Ecuador does not recognize "no-fault" divorce, meaning that one spouse cannot file simply because they want to end the marriage for convenience. Instead, they must provide evidence that the marriage has broken down due to one of the following grounds:
If you are an expat living in Ecuador and are considering getting a divorce, you will need to make sure that at least one of the spouses is a resident. In general, you can obtain residency in Ecuador through one of the following means:
If you are married to an Ecuadorian citizen, you may be able to obtain residency through your spouse.
Ecuador's Pensioner Visa (or Retirement Visa, Pensionado, Jubilado) is a popular option for retired expats who want to spend their golden years in the country. The main requirement for this visa is a guaranteed income for life, which can come from sources such as social security, pensions, annuities, or superannuation. To qualify for this visa, applicants must provide an official letter from the relevant agency (such as the Social Security Administration) stating that they receive a guaranteed income.
Ecuador's Professional Visa is a popular choice among university-educated expats, particularly younger individuals and digital nomads. To qualify for this visa, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree or higher, although they do not need to have post-graduate experience or work in their field in Ecuador. The degree needs to be registered with SENESCYT, the Ecuadorian government agency responsible for education. This process can be complex and may involve additional bureaucratic hurdles, particularly if the applicant's academic credentials do not fit perfectly into the agency's requirements. In order to qualify for this visa, applicants must also provide evidence of a regular income of at least $450 per month, which can be demonstrated through printouts from internet banking.
Either purchase property or a Certificate of Deposit (CD) with a value of $42,500 or more. The CD option is often seen as the less risky option as expats can find it difficult to sell property and it offers the added benefit of high interest rates. However, it is important to be aware that CDs do carry some risk, as not all financial institutions offer protection for the full amount of the CD.
Ecuador's Rentista Visa is similar to the Pensioner Visa, but with the main difference being that the required income does not need to be guaranteed for life. To qualify for this visa, applicants must prove that they have a recurring income from a legal source, such as property leases, investments, or employment contracts. Evidence of this income must be apostilled in the applicant's home country, translated into Spanish, and notarized in Ecuador. Income can come from inside or outside of Ecuador.
To apply for residency in Ecuador, you will need to provide a number of documents, including your passport, birth certificate, and proof of your relationship or employment in the country. It is always a good idea to obtain legal advice with a professional or the Ecuadorian consulate in your home country to make sure that you have all of the necessary documents and to understand the process for obtaining residency in Ecuador.
Once you have established residency in Ecuador, you can begin the process of filing for divorce. In general, this process is as follows:
You will need to visit the local civil registry office (Registro Civil) and file a divorce petition.
If both spouses agree to the divorce and there are no disputes over property or child custody, the separation process can be relatively straightforward. In these cases, the couple may be required to attend a mediation session to try to reach an agreement on the terms. The mediator will help the couple communicate and negotiate the terms, and will work to find a mutually satisfactory resolution. If the couple is able to reach an agreement, they can then proceed to the next step of the process.
If the couple is able to reach an agreement through mediation, they will need to file the divorce agreement at the civil registry office. The divorce agreement should outline the terms, including the division of property and any child custody or support arrangements.
If the couple is unable to reach an agreement through mediation or if one spouse does not agree to the divorce, the process will proceed through the court system. In these cases, the couple will need to attend a hearing before a judge, who will decide the terms of the divorce. The judge will consider the evidence presented by both sides and will make a decision based on the best interests of the couple and any children involved.
The court will divide the couple's property according to the principles of fairness and equity. The court will consider a number of factors when dividing property, including the length of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse to the marriage and household, and the needs of any children. In some cases, the court may order one spouse to pay alimony to the other. It is advisable for expats going through a divorce in Ecuador to seek the advice of a legal professional, who can help them understand their rights and obligations with respect to property division.
Child custody and support are determined based on the best interests of the child. When making these determinations, the court will consider a number of factors, including the child's age, relationship with each parent, and physical and emotional needs.
There are two main types of child custody in Ecuador: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child will reside, while legal custody refers to the parent's decision-making authority over the child's upbringing. In some cases, one parent may have physical custody while both parents have legal custody, meaning they both have a say in the child's upbringing. In other cases, one parent may have both physical and legal custody, while the other parent has visitation rights.
When determining child custody, the court will consider the child's preference if the child is old enough to express a preference. The court will also consider the child's relationship with each parent, the child's needs, and any history of abuse or neglect. In addition, the court may consider the ability of each parent to provide for the child's needs, including their financial resources and living situation.
Child support in divorce cases in Ecuador is typically paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. The amount of child support is based on the income of both parents, as well as the needs of the child. The court will consider the child's age, health, education, and other necessary expenses when determining the amount of child support.
In some cases, the court may order one parent to pay alimony to the other. Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is a payment made by one spouse to the other to help them maintain their standard of living after the divorce. The court will consider a number of factors when determining the amount of alimony, including the length of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse to the marriage, and the ability of each spouse to support themselves.
It is important for expats going through a divorce in Ecuador to understand their rights and obligations with respect to child custody and support, and to seek the advice of a legal professional if they have any questions or concerns. A legal professional can help you understand the laws and procedures related to child custody and support in Ecuador, and can represent you in court if necessary. They can also help you negotiate and finalize any agreements related to child custody and support, and can assist with the enforcement of these agreements if necessary.
Going through a divorce in Ecuador can be a difficult and emotional experience, especially for expats who may not be familiar with the country's laws and procedures. We hope you've found this verview of the divorce process in Ecuador to be helpful. If you are an expat living in Ecuador and are considering getting a divorce, it is advisable to seek the advice of a legal professional, who can guide you through the process and help you understand your rights and obligations under Ecuadorian law.
Contact us for an obligation-free consultation with our Family Law specialists today.