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Do “Common Law” Marriages Exist in Costa Rica ?

by Super User

Do “Common Law” marriages exist in Costa Rica?

Do Common Law marriages known locally as a “free union” do exist in Costa Rica ?  Yes they do.

How long do you have to live together ?

If a couple has lived together in a union for more than three years in an open, public, known and stable manner then the Court may recognize that as a  free union.  The “free union” if it meets with all the parameters set forth in Article 242 of the Costa Rican Family Code has the same legal effect as a legally recognized marriage.

1.  Open and Public.  The relationship may not be hidden and the couple must demonstrate their relationship to third parties as if they were married.

2.  Must be a couple.  The relationship must be between a single couple.  If any of them has other relationships with other persons then the legal effects are not present.

3.  Stability and Cohabitation.  To satisfy the legal requirements the relationship must endure over time and the couple must be living under the same roof.   This relationship needs to distinguish itself from just a passing relationship.

How do you file the petition ?

Any of the parties to the relationship or heirs may file a petition for recognition of a free union before the Family Court.   The legal process is filed pursuant to the abbreviated court procedure of the Costa Rica Code of Civil Procedure.   The statute of limitations to file the petition is two years from the date the relationship has been broken or one of the parties has died.


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