Foreign Court Decision Review of divorce and Portuguese Citizenship
Updated: Jun 2
Did you know that it is necessary to review in Portugal the divorce of Portuguese citizens decreed abroad?
It is very often necessary to update a Portuguese citizen's Civil Registry, in order to allow their sons, grandsons or spouses and partners to apply for Portuguese for citizenship.
Portuguese law commands that all acts of civil life of a Portuguese citizen, such as marriage and divorce, must be registered in Portugal’s civil registry.
Therefore, if a Portuguese citizen got married abroad, he/she has a legal duty to register this marriage in Portugal. If the marriage was dissolved by divorce, this must also be registered in Portugal.
On the other hand, every decision handed down by a foreign court, to have effect in Portugal, should be reviewed and confirmed by the Portuguese Court of Appeal.
In this sense, for it to be possible to homologate in Portugal a divorce that occurred abroad, it is necessary to go through a court procedure of Foreign Court Decision Review of divorce.
Since this is a legal action, it must be conducted by a lawyer qualified to practice law in Portugal. The main document to be presented is the certificate of the foreign court decision that sentenced the divorce, due legalized.
For this judicial proceeding to occur in a more fluid and agile manner, it is recommended that both parties (ex-spouses) file the lawsuit jointly, i.e., both parties grant powers to their attorney to represent them in the lawsuit. Otherwise, it will be necessary to notify the other part by the court to plead the case.
Once a sentence revising and confirming the foreign court decision is issued, the Court of Appeals will inform the Portuguese Civil Registry, who will record the divorce on the Portuguese citizen's birth certificate.
If the Portuguese citizen has been married more than once, it will be necessary to have each of his marriages transcribed in Portugal.
With the aim of being able to transcribe the second and subsequent marriages of a Portuguese citizen, it will always be necessary to homologate the previous marriage dissolution, and therefore to file a Foreign Court Decision Review for each divorce.
This procedure is often necessary to enable their spouses or partners to apply for Portuguese nationality through naturalization, for being married or in civil partnership with a Portuguese citizen for at least 3 (three) years.
And, eventually, for cases of application for Portuguese nationality by descendants of Portuguese citizens, when it is necessary to prove the establishment of the filiation, under the terms of the Portuguese legislation, current and in time.
Other modalities of Foreign Court Decision Review with direct implications on the obtaining of Portuguese nationality are the review of a court decision recognizing a civil partnership and an adoption, which will be addressed in another opportunity.
* Article originally published in the personal linkedIn profile of the author Lidiane de Carvalho on November 22, 2022.