Costa Rica Alimony (Spousal Support)

What You Need to Know about Alimony in Costa Rica

If you are planning to file for a divorce, or have already started the divorce process, you need to understand a few things about alimony. This is basically the amount of money that is paid by one former spouse to the other after the granting of a divorce. Whether you are the defendant or the complainant in a divorce case, the alimony is something that you should take seriously because it will affect you financially usually for a long time.

Determining the Amount of Alimony

It is the judge that decides how much alimony must be paid to the beneficiary spouse upon the granting of a divorce. However, there are no clear guidelines or rules on how to determine the exact amount to grant. The judge must carefully examine the situation and make a decision that will take into consideration the balance between the needs and possibilities of all parties involved. Our divorce lawyers here at Costa Rica Divorce all have superior negotiation skills, ensuring that our clients get a fair amount of alimony that is appropriate for their needs or capabilities.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, the declared amount is not permanent. Costa Rican law allows for the possibility that the financial needs of the beneficiary or the financial capability of the provider will change in the future. Hence, there is a process called the incidente de aumento o rebajo de pension alimentaria, the process to raise or lower the alimony amount, where either party can ask for a change in the amount of alimony.

Attempts to Escape Paying Alimony

There have been a few cases where a person tried to escape paying alimony to their estranged spouse by leaving the country. If you have been granted alimony and are worried that your ex-partner might try to take this approach, you can rest assured that stringent measures are used by law enforcement in Costa Rica to keep this from becoming a major problem. Furthermore, the United States and Costa Rican governments are very cooperative with each other in this matter. Extradition is almost always granted by both countries to ensure that alimony payments are made.

One of the things that make alimony a bit complicated in Costa Rica is the legality of demanding alimony or child support from the father if she is not listed as the father on the birth certificate. If the man denies paternity, the woman can ask for a DNA test, which the Costa Rica government will pay for. If the man refuses to take the DNA test, he will automatically be considered the father of the child, hence is required to pay alimony to the woman.

Loss of Alimony

While alimony is usually granted to the spouse that does not have a steady income, there are also cases where said spouse loses the right to alimony. For example, in cases where the cited reason for divorce was adultery and it was the woman who was caught cheating, the divorce will be granted without alimony. Moreover, she will also have to pay court fees and attorneys' fees as well.

Alimony may also be waived in Costa Rica divorce cases if both spouses agree, which is often the case in a mutually consented divorce. Alimony can also be agreed upon in a prenuptial agreement. However, even in mutually agreed cases, child support still needs to be paid if there are children involved that are under the age of 18.

Requesting for a Change in Alimony

In some cases, the amount decreed by the judge during the divorce case might no longer suffice for the current needs of the beneficiary. Perhaps the children have grown and require more funds for sustenance and schooling. Perhaps the beneficiary has suffered an illness. Or maybe the provider has gotten a substantial salary increase that allows him to give more. In these situations, the receiving spouse may seek larger alimony by submitting a formal request and by proving the changes in their circumstances.

Likewise, the provider may also request for lower alimony if they have a reduced ability to pay. Maybe they have been laid off or demoted to a lower-paying job. Maybe they are suffering from an illness or had an accident. A request for lower alimony is also valid if a minor child has turned 18 years and is no longer qualified to receive support. Again, the requesting party needs to submit evidence of the changes in their circumstances that led them to make the request.

The Trend in Alimony

In 1990, about 15% of marriages in Costa Rica ended in divorce. Over the following decades, that number has increased steadily, despite the strong Catholic beliefs that still dominate the country until the present day. By the end of 2021, however, the rate of divorce has risen to over 47%.

Still, the divorce rate in Costa Rica is about the same as in the United States or Canada.

The marriage rate is also lower in Costa Rica with only 4.7 marriages per 1,000. This is lower than Europe and North America. The main reason seems to be the more couples are living together without getting married. This is particularly true of younger couples. This has led to more legal problems with alimony since they must prove a marital type relationship to claim alimony. Common law marriage is recognized after three years of being a couple.

Legal Assistance in Alimony Cases

Because of the many unclear areas in the Costa Rican Family Law when it pertains to alimony, it is highly recommended that you work with a capable law firm that will take your best interest in consideration when handling your case. Here at Costa Rica Divorce, we have the highest level of expertise and years of experience in handling divorce, separation and alimony cases. Our attorneys are experts in Costa Rican Family Law and we guarantee that you will be represented justly throughout the case, whether you are in the country or not.

For legal advice on your alimony case, you can email us or call us anytime and we will give you the best professional advice and answer any questions you might have.

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