Divorcio al vapor en República Dominicana

‘A Vapor’ divorce for foreign nationals in the Dominican Republic.

  • By:Vianela Morillo

The type of Divorce known in the Dominican Republic as ‘A Vapor’ is one of the most common topics of interest for our non-citizen clients, who come to our firm seeking legal solutions. As a result, we will discuss this topic in this article, along with providing information about the benefits and the process to follow in order to complete it.

The Dominican Republic is a country of great beauty and contrasts, with many interesting elements for foreign nationals, such as:

  • The low cost of living.
  • Its beaches.
  • Its weather.
  • The simplicity of establishing a business in the Dominican Republic or investing, as we have discussed in previous articles.

Among the many benefits and options, a foreign national has in this country, it is worth mentioning the ‘Al Vapor’ Divorce. This type of Divorce is an extremely useful option for spouses who want to legally dissolve their marital bond, especially due to its simplicity, short processing times and low costs.

What is an ‘Al Vapor’ Divorce?

‘Al Vapor’ Divorce is a procedure established in Dominican legislation. This type of Divorce is very commonly used by foreign nationals and citizens in the country and abroad.

Law No. 142 of June 4, 1971, is the one that addresses this type of divorce (as well as others). Said law has remained unchanged when it comes to ‘Al Vapor’ Divorce; with the exception of Law 544-14, which adds a novelty to the matter, resulting in the potential interpretations of certain changes. However, by not modifying or repealing the law itself, we understand that the process for this type of Express Divorce remains unchanged.

This process is very similar to Divorce by Mutual Consent in the Dominican Republic, but there are some important differences in relation to the latter; the most important difference is the fact that some formalities are not required for its celebration, which is required to Dominican nationals when divorcing by mutual consent, such as:

  1. The length of marriage requirement, which is a minimum of two (2) years.
  2. Age of the spouses.

Benefits of ‘Al Vapor’ Divorce

  • Promptness.
  • It is possible to complete the process in about 7 days.
  • Affordability (time is money; with a fast and safe process, we guarantee that you will avoid expenses).
  • A minimum amount of formalities required.

‘Al Vapor’ Divorce was instituted in the Dominican Republic to provide satisfactory and streamlined solutions. This allows individuals who married in other countries to obtain a divorce decree in the Dominican Republic in an extremely short time.

Who can file for ‘Al Vapor’ Divorce?

The ‘Al Vapor’ Divorce can be done by:

  • Dominican citizens residing abroad.
  • Foreign nationals (which is the group who most commonly resorts to this type of Divorce).

Required Conditions

The requirements to opt for this type of divorce are simply the following:

  • The spouses must be residents abroad.
  • The spouses must have celebrated their marriage abroad or been citizens of other countries.
  • The spouses must have chosen to freely and voluntarily grant jurisdiction to a Dominican court for the termination of their marriage.

Required Documents

Before starting the divorce proceedings, it is essential to have the following documents on hand:

  • Copy of your cedula card (which is the identity document of the Dominican Republic) or full passport of the spouses (for foreign nationals).
  • A separation agreement signed before a Notary or Consul of the Dominican Republic abroad. This document must state the divorce intent, the division of assets (in the event there was a community of property system in place), the custody of minor children and child support payments.
  • Original or legalized copy of the marriage certificate.
  • Original or legalized copies of the birth certificates of any underage children (if applicable).
  • Power of attorney granted to the attorney of your choice.
  • Copy of the receipt of payment of US$400 in Dominican currency (‘Al Vapor’ Divorce tax).


It is very important to ensure that each and every one of the divorce documents that are intended to be used are properly:

  • Registered by the Consul General of the Dominican Republic, in the country of domicile of the spouses who intend to divorce.
  • The signature of said consular officer must have been legalized by the Foreign Affairs Secretary of State.
  • Additionally, documents in a language other than the Spanish need to be translated into that language.

The Power of Attorney

The power granted to the lawyer (like the separation agreement) is of utmost importance, which is why its drafting must contain certain authorizations that are vital to the process.

Thus, the power given to the lawyer must contain:

  • Signature authorization for the separation agreement.
  • Authorization to follow up on the divorce process on behalf of the absent spouse.
  • Authorization for the deposit and withdrawal of the Divorce Act, once the divorce is pronounced.

Established Process

The process for an Express Divorce generally consists of the following steps:

  1. To complete this process, as we have previously mentioned, the law requires that a formal separation agreement be signed before a Notary Public, which must be legalized at the Dominican Consulate.

This agreement must include various elements such as:

  • Custody of children born during the marriage (if any).
  • Division of common property.
  • Child Support.

2. It is essential to keep in mind that jurisdiction must be attributed to a Judge of First Instance of the Dominican Republic in this very act of separation.

3. Once this document is drafted and assigned to the Courts of the Dominican Republic to hear the divorce, preparations begin for the hearing process.

4. After the claim is authorized, a hearing date is established by the civil court in approximately 3 days after receiving all the legalized documents.

5. It is only necessary that at least one of the spouses is present at the hearing. A spouse who is not present must give power to their legal representative, and the spouse who appears at the hearing must present an identity document to the court, the same day of the hearing.

6. Once the hearing ends, the Court issues the divorce decree, which must be transcribed immediately in the corresponding Office of the Civil Registry and Mortgage Lien Records Office.

7. After the sentence is transcribed, the divorce will be pronounced by any Official of the Civil Status of the Court’s Jurisdiction who heard the process.

8. For the transcription, it is necessary to present a certified copy of the sentence, previously transcribed in the Civil Registry, along with publishing its operative section in a newspaper of national circulation.

9. In order for the divorce decree to be valid abroad, it must be legalized in the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic, in the Secretary of State for Foreign Relations, and finally in the embassy or consulate corresponding to the country where you want to be said divorce to take effect.

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Posted in: Civil Law, Family Law (Divorces), Foreigners in the Dominican Republic