Child Custody

All there is to know about getting divorced in Portugal

1. How much does a divorce costs?

A divorce can be decreed in a Civil Registry Office or in a Court-of-Law.

If the spouses are in agreement regarding:

  • children’s custody;
  • child support/maintenance;
  • assignment of the family home;
  • pet custody,

the divorce proceedings will go along in a Civil Registry Office. Without an agreement about any of the mentioned matters, it’s necessary to resort to court. The costs to bear will differ depending on either case.

Costs of Divorce in a Civil Registry Office

A divorce decreed in a Civil Registry Office costs €280,00. To this value will be added the certificates that, in general rule, are solicited by the services.

Costs of Divorce in a Court-of-Law

In cases of a divorce granted in a court there will be court fees to pay and, eventually, other financial charges.

The amount of the justice fee to pay by each intervening party will vary depending on the vicissitudes of the process. Thus, for example, in the event of an appeal to a higher court or procedural issues, the amounts will increase. The same will happen in situations where the court needs to resort to external entities (experts, evaluators, translators, etc.), whose costs will be borne by one or both parties.

In most of the divorce proceedings without appeals or incidents, the amount of the court fee to be paid by each member of the couple is €306.00.

In addition, there are the fees to be paid to your lawyer.

2. How tho choose a divorce attorney?

Do I have to hire a Divorce Lawyer?

The divorce in a Civil Registry Office can be promoted directly by the parties, without a lawyer involved. In cases of divorce in court, hiring a lawyer is mandatory.

Note that in either case, hiring a divorce lawyer is highly recommended. Divorce brings very significant personal, family and property consequences, and should be handled by a qualified professional that advises, guides, and cares for your interests. Remember that these agreements will have serious repercussions in your life and your children life for many years to come!

How much does a divorce lawyer costs?

The prices charged by lawyers – called fees – are not predetermined. This means that prices are freely determined by each professional. Therefore, naturally, you should enter into an agreement with your lawyer regarding the fees to pay.

In our case, we establish a fee policy that privileges the system of fixed prices. In these cases, the Client knows in advance the total amount of fees he has to pay, which are previously defined.

  • Family Law Face-to-face Consultation
  • Family Law Online Consultation
  • Online Divorce
  • Online Divorce and Property Division
  • Contested Divorce

In addition to these, and upon agreement with our Client, a fixed price to be paid for other services can be established.

If you do not agree to a fixed amount with your lawyer, you must enter into an agreement with him that provides for the criteria and parameters that will be followed by the fee-setting, as well as the payment terms and any other relevant data.

The best professionals periodically send their clients reports with a description of the services provided and the corresponding amount to be paid.

How to choose a good divorce attorney?

When we break a leg do we consult a cardiologist?

A good divorce attorney is a professional registered with the Portuguese Bar Association whose family whose exclusive or preferential area of practice is family law.

A generalist lawyer, who works in many branches of law, will hardly be able to provide excellent services in all of them.

The Portuguese Bar Association has not yet enforced the process to officialize specialization for family lawyers. Thus, you should find out about your attorney’s area of activity by other means, such as recommendations from friends or other lawyers, magazines and newspapers, internet sites, etc.

You should, of course, pay attention to the location of your lawyer’s office, since you will be charged for travels to distant locations.

Our main office is located in Parque das Nações, in Lisbon, and we are lawyers in divorce and family cases in the counties of Lisbon, Sintra, Oeiras, Cascais, Amadora, Loures, Mafra, Torres Vedras, Vila Franca de Xira, Almada, Seixal, Barreiro, Setúbal. From the Porto office, we operate in this region and also in Vila Nova de Gaia, Gondomar and Matosinhos.

3. How is children's custody decided?

Custody, called in Portugal exercise of parental responsibilities, is usually shared (joint). This means that decisions of particular importance to the children’s lives are decided by both parents.

Examples of the decisions of particular importance are:

  • The child’s place of residence;
  • Choosing public or private education;
  • Motorsports or extreme sports activities;
  • Surgical interventions that are likely to endanger the life of the child or interventions of an aesthetic nature.

The decision regarding these most relevant issues in the children’s lives is up to both parents who will have to reach a consensus whenever they arise. If an understanding is not possible, it will be necessary to go to court in order to obtain a decision.

The day-to-day everyday decisions are made by those who have the child with them at that moment.

4. How is children place of residence (shared or not) decided?

A different issue of custody and exercise of parental responsibilities is the one concerning the child’s residence, which may or not be shared by both parents (Shared residence, joint residence, or shared parenting).

In shared residence, the child lives alternatively in the homes of the father and the mother, typically for equal periods of time. Experts consider that, as long as the child remains 30% or more with each parent, it will be a shared residence regime.

In case of exclusive residence, the child usually resides with a parent and lives with the other parent under a previously established regime of visits (or meetings).

If the parents are unable to agree on the child’s residence regime, the Court will be called upon to decide. The criteria that have guided our courts in this matter have varied over time, but there seems to be a tendency to widen the number of cases in which our courts consider that shared residence (joint residence or shared parenting)  is the more adequate.

5. How is (child) maintenance calculated?

Contrary to what happens in some countries, in Portugal there is no table or mathematical criteria for calculating the amount of maintenance pay.

The court will try to determine the children monthly expenses. These expenses include food, clothing and footwear, school expenses, medical and medication expenses, entertainment expenses, accommodation, transport, etc.

Once a monthly amount has been determined, it will then have to be paid by both parents according to the economical means of each.

In cases of shared residence there will be no pension to be paid in most cases, as each of the parents will bear the expenses related to the periods in which the child is in his company.

However, in cases where the child resides mostly with one of the parents, there will then be a payment of the pension which will take into account the child’s needs and the possibilities of each parent.

Note that the monetary contribution of each of the parents to support their child may be different, as it depends on the possibilities of those who pay a pension. Thus, it may happen that the payment of the child’s expenses is shared in a proportion of 65% – 35% and not on an equal basis. In these cases, a maintenance payment may be made even in cases of alternative residence where a child spends half the time with each parent.

6. Can an ex-wife or ex-husband be entitled to a maintenance allowance?

As a rule, each spouse must provide for his own support after the divorce.

Thus, the situations in which a maintenance allowance will be paid to the ex-spouse are relatively exceptional and relate to the impossibility of obtaining income from one of the couple’s members, namely for reasons of health or old age .

Then, it is necessary that the other spouse meets the conditions to pay the pension, being certain that pensions paid to the children prevail, and that it is reasonable, in concrete, to impose such obligation.

The existence of a maintenance allowance is subject to the agreement of the spouses at the time of the divorce. If there is no agreement, the decision will naturally be taken by the Court.


7. How is maintenance allowance to an ex-wife or ex-husband determined?

The amount of the maintenance allowance must be agreed upon at the time of the divorce (at the Civil Registry Office or the Court).

Also in this regard, if there is no consensus, the decision will rest with the judge.

To determine the amount of the maintenance allowance, the Court will consider the needs and possibilities of the person receiving the pension, as well as the needs and possibilities of the person who pays it, particularly charges that it bears with the children, reaching then a monthly amount that is paid twelve times a year.

8. Which of the ex-spouses have the right to stay in the family home?

The family home can be rented, joint property of the couple or of one of the spouses. In any of these cases, the house may be assigned to one or the other of the spouses.

Thus, it may happen that the family residence is assigned to one of the spouses even though it is the sole name of the other spouse.

In situations where the family home is marital property or in the sole name of the other spouse, the house is allocated on a lease basis, but there may also be cases of free allocation.

Knowing who will be assigned the family home after the divorce, and the amount of rent to be paid, if applicable, are matters to be decided by consensus of the spouses. If an understanding is not possible, the decision will be made by the judge taking into account the needs and possibilities of both spouses, as well as the interests of the children.

Finally, if the house is rented, the Civil Registry Office or the Court, as the case may be, will notify the landlord regarding the assignment of the house to one or the other of the spouses.

9. How long does it takes to get a divorce in Portugal?

The duration of the divorce process is different in the Civil Registry Office and a court of law.

In the first case, and with children, the process at the Civil Registry Office will take a period that, in the metropolitan area of Lisbon, can be 2 to 3 months.

In case of a court process, it will take longer, perhaps one or even two years in case of appeals to higher courts, etc.

10. If the divorce causes me damages, can I be entitled to compensation?

Yes, the compensation for the damages caused by the divorce is expressly provided for in the law, as we wrote in an article that we published in Observador newspaper in 2019.

And these damages can be finantial damages or moral damages (psychological, etc.).

However, compensation cannot be obtained in the divorce process, and an independent judicial process must be filed for this purpose.

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