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MEXLAW > Legal Services  > When Expat Marriages Break Down in Mexico

When Expat Marriages Break Down in Mexico

Living in a foreign country can add to the complications of marriage and divorce; it is like walking a tightrope between the legislation or two countries. We recommend that you make an appointment with a Mexican lawyer they will review your situation and advise you how to proceed. 

My spouse and I are both Canadian, we were married in Canada, but we have been living in Mexico for four years. We have decided to file for a divorce, do we need to return to Canada to begin the divorce process? 

No, the Canadian Courts will not have jurisdiction over your divorce, since you have not lived in Canada for at least one year before filing for divorce. The divorce will be filed in Mexico.

Does it matter which state of Mexico I file for divorce?

-Yes, The divorce must be filed before the court in the Mexican state where the marital domicile is located.

Do I need to provide our marriage certificate from Canada?

-Yes, the marriage certificate must be legalized before the Mexican consulate and translated into Spanish. The lawyer may request other documents as well, such as title deeds to properties, birth certificates, government-issued identification, and proof of residency.

How will our property, assets, and debts be divided in a divorce?

-The matrimonial regimen at the date and province you were married applies to the division of property. That regimen must be demonstrated to the Mexican Courts that have jurisdiction to pronounce a divorce judgment and order the partition of the property.  

In Mexico, there are two types of marriages agreements Separate Property (you keep what you paid for) and Community Property (everything is 50/50 no matter who paid for it) however your divorce will be based on the province’s regimen in which you got married. Obviously, it is hopeful the couple can come to an amicable agreement about the division of assets and debt and avoid going to court, which is time-consuming and expensive.

Do I need a lawyer if my spouse and I are amicable about the divorce?

-Yes, it is essential to hire a lawyer to protect your best interest, divorce can be one of the most devastating events in a person’s life, it is an emotional time as your whole life is about to change. Chances are you are not going to make the best decisions during this time. A divorce lawyer is your advocate; they will carefully analyze the situation, provide advice, and often include aspects you may not have thought about, which could affect you in the future.  

Can we settle without going to trial?

-Interview your prospective lawyer, ask whether they are in favor of alternative dispute resolution or mediation. If yes, then your attorney will probably not push for a trial unless your spouse is uncooperative or unreasonable. 

Do I need to stay in Mexico during the divorce process? 

-It is at the discretion of the Judge, in family matters it is vital that both parties attend the first hearing as the Judge will ask the couple if they wish to separate, the Judge will suggest they remain united, but if the couple states they want the separation the hearing will move forward. 

It is not necessary to remain in Mexico throughout the entire process, but you will need to attend the hearings.

Will my foreign divorce be recognized in Canada?

-Canada typically recognizes divorces processed in another country if the divorce is valid under that country’s laws, and one or both spouses lived in that country for at least one year before the divorce application.

If I want to remarry in Canada in the future, what will I need to provide?

-You will need to register the Mexican judgment in Canada. Obtain the original judgment or obtain a certified copy from the Mexican court before returning to Canada.