Divorces in Costa Rica has tripled since 1990

Q COSTA RICA – For almost three decades, divorce has grown in Costa Rica. How many legal break ups are there per 100 marriages ? How much has that ratio changed between 1990 and 2016? How long do couples stay married?

These are some of the questions an investigative report by La Nacion attempted to answer. An interactive infograph shows that between 1990 and 2016, the number of divorces has tripled. Click here to go there.

The data reveals that in 1990, for every 100 Catholic and civil marriages entered into there were 15 divorces, while in 2016, the number is 45. And while the number of divorces per every 100 marriages saw steady rise, it reached a high of 53 in 2009, then began a drop, with a blip up in 2015.

According to demographer Gilbert Brenes, three theories have influenced the climb in the number of couples choosing divorce over staying married: greater secularism (not paying attention to religion), not following the traditions of the grandparents, and finally, a higher level of education, where individual goals are more valued.

“These three factors are not only associated with more divorces but also the postponement of the age for marriage and the growth of common-law relationships. The latter are no longer linked, as in the past, to low levels of schooling. An unexplored hypothesis is the great economic investment that involves a wedding,” says Brenes.

How long do marriages last in Costa Rica?

The data reveals that 43% of marriages end in less than ten years; 31% between 10 and 20 years; 16% between 20 and 30; 8% between 30 and 40; and only 3% last between 40 and 60 years.

According to the data, the marriage fastest to end in divorce was in 2016, the marriage was registered in March, the divorce in September. In contrast, that year a 62 marriage ended in divorce. Records show that marriage took place in 1954, in June 2016 the couple registered the separation.

Yolanda María Mora, specialist in Family Law, explains that several reforms could have influenced the rise in divorces.

In 1974, a change in the Codigo de Familia (Family Law) allowed a divorce for adultery committed by either spouse. Prior to that, divorce could only occur if the woman committed adultery; the man would have to have been publicly keeping a concubine. Notwithstanding, the couple had to be married at least five years. In addition, the judge would oblige the couple to reflect their decision for six months before pronouncing a divorce.

Mora explained in 1977 those requirements for divorce were eliminated, though the couple still had to be married for three years before contemplating divorce.

“That ended in 2008. The Courts declared it illegal to force someone to maintain an undesirable relationship,” said Mora.

Today, Irreconcilable differences is enough cause for divorce.  Gone is also the rule that did not permit the woman to remarry before 300 days of her divorce, while the man could enter into a new marriage almost on the same day.

For more indepth information on divorce and marriage in Costa Rica, best is to consult a lawyer.

What has been your experience with a marriage and/or divorce in Costa Rica? Use the comments section below or post to our official Facebook page.


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