Costa Rica Prenuptial Agreements
Did you know that Costa Rica law will consider you married if you live with with your significant other for a period of three (3) years. That is correct. If that happens you could end up paying alimony or support in the event of a break up just as if you were legally married. Did you also know that if you are married your spouse acquires rights under Costa Rica law. If you are a foreigner and trying to fight or dispute with a local lover or spouse the deck will be stacked against you in most proceedings if you have not taken affirmative action to protect yourself.
In Costa Rica prenuptial agreements are legal but they are very tricky to draft and execute so that they are legally enforceable. The CostaRica Family Code governs pre-nuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract between two people made prior to their marriage. The contract will stipulate how the two intend to divide their assets and income in the event of their divorce or separation. If you don’t have a prenuptial agreement when you file for divorce then you will be at the mercy of the local Costa Rican court regarding the division of marital assets. While the prenuptial agreement can deal with financial aspects of the marriage it will not be able to deal with the legal issues related to the custody, visitation or support of the children in the marriage.
As such the prenuptial agreement is typically used to set forth the distribution of the assets and income of the spouses. In Costa Rica in order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid it needs to be signed in the presence of a local Notary Public (Notario Publico). The Notary Public in Costa Rica is also an Attorney and they act as officers of the government to validate documents and deeds. In this capacity the prenuptial agreement will be extracted and then recorded by the Notary Public int he National Registry of Costa Rica which will put third parties on public notice of the existence of the prenuptial agreement. It is highly recommended that both parties have their own independent legal counsel and that the prenuptial agreement contain language indicating that both parties sought out independent legal advice before entering into the prenuptial agreement. This is to avoid any future claims to try and void the agreement.
Example of a Prenuptial Agreement
The following is an example of the format that a prenuptial agreement should have. It is drafted and signed before a Costa Rica Notary Public.
NOTARY PUBLIC DEED NUMBER [Deed Number]: Before me, [Name of Notary] Notary Public with an office in San Jose, personally appears [Full name of party 1], of legal age, identity card number [Identity card number of party 1], [Profession or trade of party 1], and [Full name of party 2], of legal age, identity card number [Identity card number of party 2], [Profession or trade of party 2], both of whom are married to each other, both residents of [Address of party 2], and THEY STATE AS FOLLOWS: FIRST: That they are spouses to each other and this is the first marriage of each of them. The marriages was entered into at [Place of Marriage] on [Date of Marriage], as recorded in the Civil Registry, Marriage section of [Section], Volume [Volume], Page [Page], Entry [Entry], of which the Notary attests with a view of said entry. SECOND: That in accordance with article thirty-seven of the Family Code, they have agreed to previously arrange matters relating to their present and future assets in the following manner: (a detailed description of the assets subject to this contract must be provided, as well as their corresponding estimation. If they are assets that can be registered, complete registration details must be indicated). THAT IS ALL. A first testimonial is issued. Having read this deed to the grantors, finding it agreeable, they approve it, and together we sign in the city of [Place] at [Hours] on [Date].