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Foreign Judgment Recognition

Enforcement of foreign judgments


Some rights, that are granted in another country, are not recognized in Portugal. Divorce granted abroad, in non-EU countries, and regularization of the situation such as recognizing guardianship, trusteeship, de facto union under Portuguese law, are examples of legal decisions that must be recognized by a judge in Portugal, to produces legal effect in Portugal.


For a divorce carried out abroad to be recognized and valid in Portugal, it must be transcribed in the Portuguese civil registry, after being recognized by a court in Portugal.


We are facing a situation in which it is necessary to recognize a foreign judgment in Portugal. This is a special judicial process, foreseen and regulated in the Civil Procedure Code, under the terms of articles 979 and following.


The process can be initiated by just one of the ex-spouses or by both together.


The necessary requirements for confirming the sentence from an extra-EU country are:

a) That there is no doubt about the authenticity of the document contained in the sentence or the intelligence of the decision;

b) That has become final in accordance with the law of the country in which it was handed down;

c) That comes from a foreign court whose jurisdiction has not been caused by fraud in the law and does not deal with matters of exclusive jurisdiction of the Portuguese courts;

d) That the exception of lis pendens or res judicata on the grounds in question cannot be invoked affects the Portuguese court, except if it was the foreign court that prevented the jurisdiction;

e) That the defendant has been regularly summoned for the action, under the law of the country of the court of origin, and that in the process the principles of the adversary and equality of the parties have been observed;

f) That it does not contain a decision whose recognition leads to a result that is manifestly incompatible with the principles of international public order of the Portuguese State.


For the action of recognition of foreign divorce judgment, the following documents will be required:

- Marriage certificate or Divorce Public Deed, if this took place at the registry office, duly apostilized.

- Certificate of the sentence, issued and authenticated by the court that issued it, with mention that it has become final. (*)

- Forensic power of attorney (if the request is made jointly, from both spouses to the same lawyer).

- Simple copy of the client's identification documents or passport.

- Full name and address of both parties

- Portuguese spouse's birth certificate


(*) In the event that the sentence does not contain a report that reproduces the position of the parties, the certificate must also contain a copy of the initial petition and the defense (authenticated by the Court). In the event that the action was initiated with a joint application, the certificate must contain the joint application if the sentence does not reproduce it (authenticated by the Court).


Foreigners who acquire Portuguese nationality should be aware, as previous marriages must also be registered and the divorce duly recognized before the registration of the new marriage.


The acts of civil life carried out in a third country, referring to a Portuguese citizen, must be registered in Portugal.


Portuguese citizens who married abroad, before the authorities of a third country, must transcribe their marriage in the Portuguese legal system. The same occurs with the acts of death registration of a Portuguese citizen who dies in a third state.


Only then, can the Portuguese authorities take into account the act performed abroad. With the transcript, the act will appear in civil registries in Portugal.


Certificates and documents required for proper internal registration, written in a foreign language, must be accompanied by certified translation, in accordance with the law. There is an exception for documents issued in and written in English, French or Spanish, as long as the employee who will review the application masters that language.


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