DIVORCE IN MEXICO: Report from the US Embassy in Mexico
1. Residence requirements: Amendments to the Mexican Nationality and Naturalization Law which took effect on March 7, 1971, require that an alien be a legal resident of Mexico before he may apply for a Mexican divorce. He must obtain a certificate from the Secretaria de Gobernacion (Interior Department) stating that he has legal residence in Mexico and is therefore entitled to institute divorce proceedings. Becoming a legal resident (inmigrante) is a rather complicated, time-consuming process.
Application for a resident visa must be made at the Mexican Consulate nearest to the prospective immigrant's abode in the U.S. Numerous documents are required, including proof of income (a minimum of $1500.00 per month for a single person and $500.00 for each accompanying dependent is required.) Work permits are extremely difficult to obtain in Mexico and the inmigrante is not permitted to work without a permit until he becomes an emigrado after five years. During the five-year period he cannot be absent from Mexico more than twelve weeks of each year or he loses his immigrant status. BECAUSE OF THESE RESTRICTIONS, FEW NON-MEXICANS WILL FIND IT PRACTICAL TO ATTEMPT TO OBTAIN A MEXICAN DIVORCE.
2. Divorce laws vary somewhat from one state to another within the Republic of Mexico, and there appears to be no Mexican Government office in any of the states or the Federal District where one may obtain printed information concerning the laws. The Embassy has no compilation of such laws, and consular officers are prohibited from acting as legal advisors or endeavoring to interpret laws of any country. There are Mexican consular offices throughout the United States. It is possible that those offices may have in their libraries copies of the Civil Codes of the 30 States, one territory and the Federal District, which contain divorce laws. However, these publications are in the Spanish language and would have to be consulted in the consular office.
3. It is advisable, if not imperative, that the interested party consult a reputable attorney in the State in Mexico where he intends to obtain the divorce, who can provide detailed information regarding residence and documentary requirements. The attorney could estimate the period of time required for completion of proceedings from initiation until the decree is granted, once the person has complied with provisions of the laws of the state and the Federal Government.
4. Over the years, there have been numerous instances of fraudulent practice with respect to marriages and divorces in certain states of Mexico. In these cases, the marriage has never recorded in any state even though the lawyer or broker may have given his client a document in the Spanish language purporting to be the actual marriage certificate or divorce decree, or an English language "receipt" purporting to represent registration of the document and/or his having had the marriage or divorce effected by proxy in another state. Certain Mexican Government officials within the Embassy's consular district have informed this office that a marriage or divorce occurring in one state cannot be legally registered within another state or the Federal District and if purportedly so registered may be deemed fraudulent. They have further stated that only documents which have been authenticated by the Governor (Gobernador), the Secretary General of Government of the State (Secretario General de Gobierno del Estado) and/or by the Executive Director of Government (Oficial Mayor de Gobierno) may be given credence.
5. If a divorce is obtained in Mexico, the interested person should obtain a certified copy of the decree and have it authenticated by appropriate Mexican Government authorities such as those mentioned above. The Mexican Government official's signature last appearing on the decree should then be authenticated by an American consular officer for use of the document in the United States. It is also desirable that the document be translated by an official translator, who whould certify to his translation before an American consular officer. The consular fees for authentication and taking the oath of a translator are $55.00.
6. There is no central records office for the whole of the Republic of Mexico or within any one state or the Federal District where divorce decrees are registered. Each court or civil registry maintains its own records. Within the jurisdiction of the Federal District alone, there are 18 civil courts and 26 civil registries. Therefore, should a copy of the decree be needed at some future date, it would be necessary for the person requesting a certified copy to provide information regarding the name and location of the court in which the proceedings took place and date of decree before a search of records would be made.
7. The Embassy cannot provide information regarding costs of (a) the divorce proceedings (b) recording (c) a certified copy of the decree (d) authentication by Government officials (e) translation. Charges vary among attorneys, custodians of records, authenticating officials and translators.
8. The Embassy cannot give advice regarding laws of the respective states of the United States pertaining to recognition of divorce obtained outside the state. It is desirable that the person consult an attorney in his own state who may be familiar with international law, and who could advise whether a divorce which is considered legal in Mexico would be recognized in that state and/or elsewhere in the United States - - and by the Federal Government should there at some time be a question of federal benefits (i.e., Social Security, armed forces or veteran's benefits) requiring production of personal records, particularly if there should be a marriage by either party subsequent to the divorce.