Dissolution of marriage
Child custody
Child support
Protecting yourself
Dominican Republic
Same-Sex Marriage NEW
Common law marriage
CT family law statutes
About Hilary B. Miller, Esq.
Other family law links
How to contact us

LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rated for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability
Divorce in the Dominican Republic

Map of the Caribbean


Because there are occasionally long waiting periods in other states and some foreign countries - rarely an issue in Connecticut - parties occasionally seek to obtain a divorce in a jurisdiction without a waiting period or a residency requirement. Recently, long waiting periods have become a particular issue in England.

In the United States, jurisdiction of a state court to grant a divorce is based on domicile; unless one of the parties is actually domiciled in the forum state, that state is powerless to grant a divorce. As noted below, some states apply this principle to enforce a public policy that they alone, and not any other state or foreign country, have the power to grant a divorce with respect to their residents. Each state prescribes its own requirements for the establishment of domicile in that state. In Connecticut and most other states, one can establish domicile immediately by having a residence and an intention to reside in the state permanently.

Most states have a waiting period. (In Connecticut, a divorce cannot be granted unless one of the parties has resided in the state for at least one year, and there is a "cooling off" period of 90 days.) The shortest waiting period in the United States is Nevada's, which is six weeks. Since domicile is a jurisdictional requirement, the party seeking to establish jurisdiction must generally actually reside and intend to reside permanently in the forum state.

Sometimes parties have a need to be divorced in a hurry. This situation occurs most frequently when one of the parties desires to remarry immediately. When both parties agree on a divorce and have established all of the relevant terms of their parting by a separation agreement or otherwise, it may make sense to consider a foreign forum where a divorce can be obtained rapidly. As a general matter, a Dominican divorce should be sought as a last resort only after the parties have exhausted opportunities to obtain a timely dissolution of their marriage in the place where they are domiciled.

Return to top of page

History of Dominican Divorce

In 1971, the divorce law respecting foreigners in the Dominican Republic was liberalized to attract the migratory divorce trade. See, Note, Caribbean Divorce for Americans: Useful Alternative or Obsolescent Institution?, 10 CORNELL INT'L LAW J., 116 (1976). The liberalization coincided with the demise of Mexico as a forum for "quickie" (frequently invalid mail-order) divorces, as the Mexican government sought to placate religious groups within and without the country.

Return to top of page

Requirements for a Dominican Divorce

A Dominican divorce is obtained by the appearance of one of the spouses in person in court in Santo Domingo. The absent spouse appears by written Special Power of Attorney and authorizes an attorney to appear for him and to consent to a divorce. The entire process takes approximately an hour and can be arranged on a few days' advance notice.

The person appearing in the Dominican Republic must have the following documents:

·        Original or certified copy of marriage certificate

·        Special Power of Attorney executed by the non-appearing spouse before a Dominican consul

·        Birth certificates of children (or photocopies)

·        Passport, Social Security card or driver's license

·        In order to obtain entry into the Dominican Republic, American citizens must bring a passport or other proof of citizenship; citizens of other countries should check with the Dominican Embassy for entry requirements

·        A plane ticket home.

Return to top of page

Recognition of Dominican Divorces by Other Governments

As a general matter, Dominican divorces are looked upon with disfavor in the United States. Where neither party was domiciled in the Dominican Republic prior to the divorce, a U.S. court is not required to grant "comity" - to give blind recognition to - the foreign decree. Substantially all jurisdictions will prohibit the spouse who consented to the divorce from attacking it later under a principle of fairness called "estoppel"; with both of the parties themselves consenting to the divorce, there is no one left to attack it. It is therefore absolutely essential that evidence of the consent of the non-appearing spouse be maintained indefinitely, as important rights may turn on a reviewing court's evaluation of that consent.

One of the few states to give recognition to bilateral Dominican divorces is New York (Rosenstiel v. Rosenstiel, 16 N.Y.2d 64, 209 N.E.2d 709, 262 N.Y.S.2d 86 [1965]). In New York, both parties must participate in the divorce (i.e., there must be written consent of the non-appearing spouse), and one party must physically travel and appear in person before the court in the Dominican Republic.

Many other state courts which have faced the question of a foreign divorce where both parties participate in the divorce proceedings but neither obtains domicile there have followed the view that such a divorce is invalid. Weber v. Weber, 200 Neb. 659, 265 N.W.2d 436 (1978); Everett v. Everett, 345 So. 2d 586 (La. Ct. App. 1977); Kugler v. Haitian Tours, Inc., 120 N.J. Super. 260, 293 A.2d 706 (1972); Estate of Steffke v. Wisconsin Department of Revenue, 65 Wis.2d 199, 222 N.W.2d 628 (1974); Commonwealth v. Doughty, 187 Pa. Super. 499, 144 A.2d 521 (1958); Bobala v. Bobala, 68 Ohio App. 63, 33 N.E.2d 845 (1940); Golden v. Golden, 41 N.M. 356, 68 P.2d 928 (1937). In addition, this rule prevails in six States - California, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Wisconsin - by virtue of the enactment by these legislatures of a provision of the Uniform Divorce Recognition Act, 9A U.L.A. 461 (Supp. 1965), which specifically denies recognition to a divorce decree obtained in another jurisdiction when both spouses were domiciled in the home state. That a foreign divorce when neither spouse obtained domicile will not be recognized by the true domiciliary State, is also understood to be the law in England. Mountbatten v. Mountbatten, 1 All Eng. Rep. 99 (1959).

Whether or not a Dominican divorce will be recognized in a foreign jurisdiction (including the United States) will depend on the laws of the foreign jurisdiction. Because these rights are valuable and important legal rights, the services of a competent attorney must be sought. Under no circumstances should a divorce be sought from a service offering "mail order" or non-appearance divorces, which are invalid everywhere in the United States.

If you are seriously contemplating a divorce in a jurisdiction in which neither you nor your spouse resides, it is strongly urged that you follow this link and read the additional information carefully.

Return to top of page

Return to Connecticut Divorce Home Page