Family Law in Portugal 1International Marriage & Divorce – We all fall in love – if we are lucky. And when things are going well, we forget there are no guarantees. Living an international life or choosing a partner from another country can be fun – and also complicated!

One of you may be from Portugal and the other not. Or both of you may be from another country, but planning to marry and live here. Those scenarios have different possible outcomes. International marriages are becoming more common – and so are the headaches that come when a divorce occurs.

For instance, you may think that where you were married determines where you must be divorced. That is not so. Or you may be under the impression that the pre-nuptial agreement you both signed will be recognised and upheld worldwide. Wrong again.

If you have not yet married, but are hoping to do so, I strongly advise you and your chosen mate to discuss your options and the laws of Portugal regarding such things as child custody and support and the division of property for both inheritance and divorce. I’ll help you make sure your decisions are “for better” and not “for worse”.

Civil Partnership & Dissolution – Portugal is quite a liberal and tolerant place when it comes to co-habitation, and ahead of many other countries in its laws about this matter. We have what is called “União de facto” or a de facto union that applies not only to couples of the opposite sex, but also to same sex partners. This civil arrangement gives co-habiting partners (of whatever sexual orientation) many of the same rights as married people enjoy – including recognition when applying for Portuguese citizenship, inheritance, compensation claims, welfare support and adoption of children. But not everything is cut-and-dried; there are some grey areas. Please talk to me before doing something important such as buying property together. If things fall apart later, you will have greater peace of mind and face less conflict.

Family Law in Portugal 2Children’s Needs and Rights – All children need care and protection under the law. Some are lucky enough to have two loving parents. But many grow up in single-parent homes, or with relatives as their main guardians and carers due to divorce or death of their parents. Others, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, may be taken into care by public agencies in the hope that good foster parents or adoption can give the young ones a more loving and stable life. In Portugal, anyone of either sex – single, married, or in a civil partnership – may apply to adopt a child. It is never a quick or easy process, because sometimes birth parents must give their permission, and always the best interests of the child must be carefully explored. If you are interested in fostering or adopting a child, or need help with child-related issues arising from separation, divorce or death, please contact me for a discussion. I’m here to help.

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