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Puerto Rico Family Law

Puerto Rico Family Law

Puerto Rico Family Law: Protecting the Rights and Welfare of Families

Family is the cornerstone of society, and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the rights of families are protected. Puerto Rico has a unique legal system, and its family law is no exception. This article will explore the various aspects of Puerto Rico family law, including marriage, divorce, child custody, and adoption. We will also review recent updates and resources that can help understand the current state of family law in Puerto Rico.

Marriage and Domestic Partnerships in Puerto Rico

Marriage is a legal union between two individuals. The requirements to get married in Puerto Rico are straightforward. Both parties must be at least 18 years old, not blood relatives, and not currently married. They must also present a valid birth certificate, photo identification (such as a driver’s license), and a signed and notarized affidavit stating that they are not mentally impaired.

Additionally, Puerto Rico recognizes domestic partnerships, which provide legal rights to cohabiting couples who are not married. This option is particularly helpful for same-sex couples who cannot legally marry in Puerto Rico. To be eligible for domestic partnership, both parties must be at least 18 years old, not related by blood or adoption, not already married or in another domestic partnership, and have lived together in a stable, continuous relationship for at least one year.

Divorce and Separation in Puerto Rico

Divorce is the process by which a marriage is legally terminated. A divorce in Puerto Rico may be granted on either a fault or no-fault basis. The most common grounds for divorce are adultery and irreconcilable differences. In Puerto Rico, those who seek a no-fault divorce may simply allege that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

While many states require a period of legal separation before getting a divorce, this is not the case in Puerto Rico. However, couples may opt for a legal separation rather than a divorce. This agreement outlines the rights and obligations of each partner while living apart, including property, custody, and support arrangements. It can also provide a path for reconciliation without having to remarry.

Child Custody and Support in Puerto Rico

Child custody and support are of utmost importance in family law cases involving children. In Puerto Rico, the court will determine child custody based on the best interests of the child. Joint custody is generally preferred, unless one party poses a danger to the child.

Parents are legally obligated to support their children financially, regardless of whether they are married or not. The amount of child support is determined based on the child’s needs and the income of both parents. Child support orders can be modified if there is a change in circumstances, such as a significant increase or decrease in income.

Adoption in Puerto Rico

Adoption is a legal process by which an individual or couple becomes the legal parent(s) of a child who is not their biological offspring. In Puerto Rico, adoption is governed by the Puerto Rico Children’s Code. The process of adopting a child in Puerto Rico can be lengthy and complicated, requiring the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

There are several types of adoptions in Puerto Rico, including domestic, international, and step-parent adoptions. Domestic adoptions involve children who are already in Puerto Rico, while international adoptions involve children from other countries. Step-parent adoptions are common when a parent remarries and the new spouse wishes to adopt their stepchild.

Updates and Resources in Puerto Rico Family Law

In recent years, Puerto Rico has made significant progress in updating and modernizing its family law system. In 2019, for example, Governor Ricardo Rosselló signed a comprehensive family law reform bill that included several notable changes. These changes included a new definition of domestic violence, strengthened protections for victims of domestic violence, and streamlined the process for obtaining restraining orders. The law also provides for joint custody of children unless one parent poses a danger to the child.

There are several resources available to individuals seeking information about family law in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Bar Association has a family law section that provides education and advocacy for individuals involved in family law cases. Additionally, the Puerto Rico Family Court website provides information on court procedures, forms, and resources for individuals navigating the family law system.


Family law is a complex and constantly evolving area of law. Puerto Rico family law emphasizes the importance of protecting the rights and welfare of families. From marriage to adoption, this legal system strives to ensure that all families are treated fairly and equitably. Recent updates to the family law system demonstrate a commitment to reform and progress. By remaining informed and seeking out the resources available, individuals can navigate the family law system in Puerto Rico with confidence and clarity.

Guide to Puerto Rico Family Law

If you are divorcing, adopting or otherwise changing the structure of your family in PR, family law in the territory will govern how your case is handled.  This guide will explain some of the basics of PR family law so that you can begin further research.  If you need legal advice about some aspect of a specific case, or would like more detailed information on some part of Puerto Rico family law, it may be advisable to speak to a family law attorney.


If you are getting a divorce, PR family law requires that your property be divided equitably in the absence of a pre-nuptial agreement.  Generally, Puerto Rico family law will assign a family house to the parent who retains primary custody of a marriage’s children, though in some situations a house may be sold as part of a divorce settlement.

Typically, couples who divorce will reach some kind of settlement agreement according to PR family law rather than taking their case to trial.  Trials can be difficult on both spouses and their children, so many people prefer to avoid a trial at almost all costs.  If you need to initiate a divorce, Puerto Rico family law allows you to do so without proving that your spouse did anything wrong—a so-called “no fault” divorce.  PR family law also provides for fault divorces in certain very limited circumstances, but these divorces can be messy and expensive, so most spouses prefer the no-fault route even if they believe they could prove fault.


Families that are adopting from either a domestic or international agency will need to have an attorney according to Puerto Rico family law.  Today, this area of PR family law is used more than ever, as more couples begin the adoption process.  Typically, due to the rigorous home study process required by Puerto Rico family law, it will take at least six months for an adoption to be finalized even if you are adopting a waiting child.

Child Support

Child support obligations are computed in PR family law based on the parents’ total income and the child’s support needs.  Judges have wide discretion in assigning amounts of child support according to Puerto Rico family law.  If you need to request a change in your child support payments, or ask for enforcement of an existing support agreement, PR family law requires that you initiate legal proceedings.  You will generally need to hire an attorney if you want to change your support arrangements.

Child Custody

In most situations, Puerto Rico family law will provide one parent with primary physical custody and one parent with unsupervised visitation rights.  You may be able to have this visitation supervised if you believe your child’s other parent poses a danger to your child.  PR family law creates child custody arrangements based on what the court believes to be the best interest of your child, and may grant shared physical custody in some situations if parents have agreed on how to divide their parenting responsibilities.