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 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.
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.