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Fast Divorces
What is the fast divorce procedure?
Dominican fast divorces, known under the legislation as “special,” are painless and hassle free. They are available to foreigners and Dominicans married to foreigners, as well as Dominican citizens not resident in the DR and take only one day. 

For the divorce to be legal, at least one of the spouses needs to come down to the Dominican Republic to appear before the Court. There is no such thing as a “mail-order” divorce in which neither spouse has to appear in court. “Unilateral” divorces are also invalid since both spouses must agree to the divorce.

The travelling spouse should arrive the day before the hearing in Court in order to hand over the documentation to his/her attorney for registration and to be at court early in the morning. He/she may depart the next day in the afternoon. That is, you can be divorced in less than 24 hours. 

The divorce ruling, however, has to be typed up by the Court, recorded at the Registry, and authenticated at the Consulate or Embassy of the country of origin of the spouses. This takes approximately 10-15 business days, after which the file is sent by courier to the clients.

How long does it actually take?
The actual hearing usually takes less than five minutes. Nevertheless, those divorcing should set aside a morning, from an early morning meeting with the lawyer to the completion of the procedure before the 12 noon court closing time. 

The final decree of divorce is granted immediately upon plaintiff's appearance in court. The plaintiff is required to be in Santo Domingo only long enough for one appearance in court. Airline schedules do not permit a client to arrive and depart the same day. Court hearings are held everyday except holidays.

Do I have to travel to Santo Domingo for the divorce, or can it take place in another Dominican city? I’m thinking of flying in to La Romana, Puerto Plata or Punta Cana for a vacation also.
At least one of the spouses needs to travel to Santo Domingo. Although the procedure is available in other cities only courts in Santo Domingo have the mechanism in place to issue the divorce decree without delay.

On what grounds are Dominican special divorces granted?
Only by mutual consent. No culpability or fault need be alleged. An English translation of the actual special divorce law is available at here

Can you help me look up a divorce decree, birth certificate or marriage certificate?
That is extremely difficult to do. Divorces, marriages and births are recorded in municipal offices called "Oficialías de Estado Civil". There is at least one office per municipality.

Cities have many "Oficialías". A divorce decree granted by a Santo Domingo Court will be recorded in one of the Santo Domingo "Oficialías". Although the "Oficialías" report all records to a central office ("Junta Central Electoral") they are not organized there in any way that makes it easy or even feasible to find a particular record. Things would be different if you knew which court granted the divorce, marriage or the birth was registered and when. 

Regarding births, the good news is that the government is working so that hospitals may be interconnected with the computer systems of the JCE. A 2006 completion date for the computerizing of birth certificates, divorce degrees and marriage certificates was given in July 2001.

How soon can a Dominican woman remarry after a divorce?
Art. 35 of Divorce Law 1306-bis of 1938 establishes that a Dominican woman needs to wait ten months after her divorce is final. The only exception is when she is remarrying her previous husband. 

This archaic provision comes from the article 228 in the French Napoleonic Code of 1804, a time when pregnancy tests did not exist and therefore confusion could result regarding the paternity of any child born soon after the new marriage. It is stupid and outdated, etc. but, unfortunately, it’s the law.

How soon can a person remarry after getting a one-day divorce in the DR?
The foreign person needs to wait for the divorce decree to be registered at the “Oficialía” before remarrying. The divorce is not final until it’s registered. To marry before registration of the divorce decree may invalidate the marriage if challenged in the future.

Will my one-day divorce be valid in the US or Canada?
For the judgment to be valid abroad, it needs to be certified in the Office of the Attorney General of the Dominican Republic as well as in the Foreign Relations Ministry and the embassy or consulate of the country where the divorce is to be valid. The authentication of the final decree of divorce, with translations by an official government translator, is part of the services provided by law firm for the established fee. 

Prior to getting divorced in the Dominican Republic, Canadian citizens should check with a local solicitor or notary (in Quebec) to determine whether the divorce will be recognized.

In the case of US residents, a similar check will have to made regarding the laws of your own state. Divorce in the US is governed by state law (which may vary). That said, many states have recognized foreign divorces after this has been disputed (New York, Texas, Tennessee, Connecticut and Maryland, included). The states of California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin will regard Dominican divorces as invalid based on existing statutes or controlling case law.

What about children’s right to support, marriage settlements?
Matters other than divorcing the parties should be worked out prior to carrying out the Dominican divorce. Complicated issues regarding marriage settlements should be handled first within your own jurisdiction. Dominican one-day divorces are by mutual consent only. 

The US Government web site provides information on the legality of foreign divorces. 
See
travel.state.gov

Special Divorce Law

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