By: Ilia Pellot-Juliá, Esq.
The Puerto Rico Civil Code was recently amended to permit notaries to perform civil unions and also, to dissolve them.
Act 201 of December 27, 2016 authorizes Puerto Rico notaries, starting April 26, 2017, to celebrate marriages in our jurisdiction, therefore broadening the options for couples who wish a civil union.
On the other hand, some divorce proceedings can now be performed without the need of a court action. Act No. 155 of August 9, 2016, (the “Act”) which entered into effect on December 7, 2016, now permits notaries in Puerto Rico to perform divorces by means of a Public Deed. The Act amends the Puerto Rico Civil Code and adds, as grounds for a divorce, the manifestation before a Puerto Rico notary of an irreparable rupture in the marriage. Although in a judicial proceeding of a divorce on irreparable rupture grounds, one spouse may initiate the proceeding, the proceeding before a Puerto Rico notary requires the consent and presence of both spouses. Their consent will be formalized by means of a Public Deed in which they will express their intention of dissolving their marriage.
To qualify for this proceeding, the spouses have to comply with the following requisites: (i) have no minor or disabled children who depend on both spouses; and (ii) possess no joint property and no joint debts to liquidate and/or divide amongst them, as these are defined by the Civil Code under the community property regime.
Once both parties sign the Public Deed, the divorce will be final after 30 days of such date, if no party requests its revocation. Therefore, the Act permits spouses who comply with these requisites to end their marriage in a fast and just way.
While mutual consent divorces are not contemplated by the Act, Project No. 378 of the House of Representatives considers amending the Civil Code to include a divorce on such grounds before a notary public. This amendment would permit couples with joint property and/or debts, and who have minor children, to also be able to end their marriage outside of a court proceeding. In this case, both parties would have to reach an agreement as to the liquidation and division of marital property, as well as paternal authority, custody and child support regarding minor children. Such agreement would be incorporated to the Public Deed prepared by the notary and signed by both parties.
Although Puerto Rico notaries are required to also be lawyers, they are not considered to represent a specific client. They represent the public faith and must advice all parties to an agreement or act of
its legal consequences, in addition to giving validity to such act or agreement by ensuring all legal formalities are followed.
The following notaries in our office may be able to assist you with this or any other legal matter requiring a notary’s advice:
Xiomara Del Toro-Díaz
Luis M. Pellot-González
This publication is a summary of recent law referred to herein and is not intended to substitute legal advice. We encourage you to contact us or your attorney if you have any questions or need assistance regarding any of the matters presented herein. An attorney-client relationship with Pellot-González, Tax Attorneys & Counselors at Law, P.S.C. cannot be formed by reading or responding to this memorandum. Such a relationship may be formed only by express agreement with Pellot-González, Tax Attorneys & Counselors at Law, P.S.C.
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Luis M. Pellot-González, Esq.
Janira Beltrán-Sellés, Esq., CPA
Yadira Portalatín-Méndez, Esq., CPA, LLM
Yaritza Portalatín-Méndez, Esq., CPA, LLM
Marisel Valentín-Márquez, Esq., CPA, LLM
Xiomara Del Toro-Díaz, Esq., CPA, LLM
Valerie Beauchamp-Torres, Esq., CPA
Ilia Pellot-Juliá, Esq.
Luis M. Pellot-Juliá, Esq., LLM
Luis Rivera-Román, Esq. (of counsel)
The Hato Rey Center, Suite 903
268 Ponce de León Ave.
Hato Rey, Puerto Rico 00918
Tel: (787) 250-6300
Fax: (787) 250-6330
Web site: http://pellot-gonzalez.com