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Marriage by Cohabitation in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica cohabitation by a couple may result in an implied marriage being created when several facts are present during the time of cohabitation.

The Costa Rican Family Code (Codigo de Familia) was modified by law number 7532 recognizing the legal concept of an implied marriage also know as a “common law marriage” in some jurisdictions.  According to Article 242 of the Family Code a …”cohabitation which is public, notorious, unique and stable for a period of more than 3 years between a man and women that have the legal capacity to marry…”  shall be considered and acquire the same rights as a married couple.

In order to obtain a declaration of an implied marriage one of the parties must file a suit in the appropriate Family Court to request the status.  The court will open the proceeding pursuant to the abbreviated process of the Code of Civil Procedure and rule on the petition after gathering all the facts and statements from the parties involved.

Since 1995 when the implied marriage law was created the Costa Rican court system has issued numerous case law to set the precedent for application of the law.

Once the declaration of implied marriage is made then the relationship has the same legal effects as a legally formed marriage.  The common law spouse then acquires the legal rights to benefit from the other spouse on matters such as health care, inheritance, spousal support

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