Man Files Constititional Court Action To Allow Polygamy In Costa Rica

The confidential constitutional court filing to eliminate two articles of the Family Code that prohibit a person from marrying more than one person at the same time


TODAY COSTA RICA – A man, who has asked for confidentiality in the process, has filed a constitutional action with the intention of allowing polygamy in the country.

A report in a La Prensa Libre, says the man is asking Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court (Sala Constitucional or Sala IV) for the elimination of two articles – Article 14 (1) and Article 48 (1) – of the Family Code (Codigo de Familia) that prohibits the practice.

More: When you marry or live with a Costa Rican, you basically commit polygamy


The man said his action to allow him and others to have more than one spouse.

The articles that he seeks to be eliminated prohibit a person from marrying more than one person at the same time, defining a second relationship as adultery, which can be a cause for divorce.

The court filing is still being evaluated for its admissibility, that is, waiting for the first filter, in which the magistrates of the Constitutional Court can accept to hear the case or reject it flat out.

Vanlly Cantillo, a spokeswoman for the Constitutional Chamber, confirmed that the (confidential) action file number is 17-007988.

How do Costa Rican’s define marriage?

Marriage in Costa Rica is still defined as a man and woman. Some Costa Ricans consider only Catholic Church marriages to be official although civil marriages are becoming more common. Legal marriages are civil or religious.

Costa Rica family. Image from

Related: 10 Life changing facts when you marry a Costa Rican

Couples that have lived together for three plus years are considered common-law marriages or Free Unions (Union Libre in Spanish).

Modern or North Americanized lifestyle has brought changes. Divorce in Costa Rica is no longer the scandal it once was; separations are common.

Many Costa Ricans continue with the custom of marrying only within the limits of a local community, clan, tribe, racial or religious group. Although the custom of marrying outside is not frowned upon. Incest is not a widely spoken about practice and often frowned upon but in Costa Rica, a large number of pregnant girls who are under the age of 15 are victims of incest.

The Constitutional Court

In Costa Rica, any person can file an action before the “Constitutional Court” or often called the Sala IV or Fourth Court.

The role of the Sala IV is to oversee the protection of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and international law instruments ratified by Costa Rica, so as to ensure that these standards are met. This Court is in charge of protecting and preserving the principle of constitutional supremacy whereby no rule, treaty, regulation, or law within our legal order may be contrary to the Constitution. The Court provides services 24 hours a day, all year long, so that it can receive petitions at any time. It is located on the first floor of the Supreme Court building in San José.

The Court provides services 24 hours a day, all year long, so that it can receive petitions at any time. It is located on the first floor of the Supreme Court building in San José.

Actions that can be filed with the Constitutional Court include Habeas Corpus, Amparo and Appeal based on unconstitutionality.

From description of the judicial system of Costa Rica:

Habeas Corpus is based on Article 48 of the Constitution, which guarantees personal liberty and humane treatment. This implies that no one, without just cause, may be deprived of the freedom to move, remain in, enter, or leave the country. Any individual may file a writ of habeas corpus without the assistance of a legal advisor or attorney. It may also be filed on one’s own behalf or on behalf of another person.

Amparo. This also originated in Article 48 of the Constitution, which establishes the right of all persons to use this remedy to maintain or reinstate enjoyment of other rights (except that of personal liberty protected by habeas corpus), enshrined in the Constitution. In this case, as with the above, one does not require the assistance of an attorney to file a writ of amparo. The distinguishing feature of this remedy is that it can be filed among private parties, as long as one holds a position of superiority.

Appeal based on unconstitutionality. This can be filed against any action, rule, provision or law contrary to the Constitution. It is also allowable to question the jurisprudence of the Courts of Justice. The Constitutional Court also takes inquiries about the constitutionality of bills before Congress in order to determine whether they contain any unconstitutional elements before they are enacted into law. And it receives inquiries from the Courts when they have concerns about the constitutionality of a given rule or regarding actions that occur during the different stages of a trial. Appeals based on unconstitutionality require more formal presentation. The jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court is binding erga omnes, except upon itself.

A petition to the Constitutional Court does not have to be formal or require legal representation, in fact, it can be scrawled on a piece of paper, as it has been the case in actions filed by prison inmates.