Be careful when you search online about divorces in Puerto Rico

While doing some research online about divorces in Puerto Rico, I came across this entry:

How do I File for Divorce in Puerto Rico?

While the author probably had the best intentions, there are a number of very worrisome mistakes with the information provided.  I have my doubts as to whether the author is admitted as an attorney in Puerto Rico, and handles family law.

Here’s a quick list of the mistakes I found:

“Because legal filings can be complex, if you intend to file pro se, consider investing in a software package designed to advise you on the proper forms and filing requirements for your situation. The U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico does not provide legal forms or advice.”

“File your divorce petition with the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico. If you hired a lawyer, your lawyer will file the petition for you.”

First of all, I have yet to see a software package for legal forms in Puerto Rico. Court filings need to be drafted from scratch, and court forms are not exactly allowed. Perhaps there’s a software vendor selling Puerto Rico Court Forms, and if there is, please contact me. I’d love to see them.

Secondly, and most importantly, the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico does NOT handle domestic matters. They don’t handle divorce cases, or anything related to local family law. The case must be filed in the “Tribunal de Primera Instancia”, which is the local court. Each district has its own Family Court.

If you need a lawyer, look for one with experience with divorces in Puerto Rico. Ask for recommendations, or contact the Puerto Rican Bar Association, www.prba.net, for help.

The Puerto Rico Bar Association, or Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico is the main association for attorneys. The website listed on the article is for the NEW YORK STATE Puerto Rican Bar Association, and has absolutely no relation to Puerto Rico. In fact, it says so on the website. It’s members are admitted to the New York bar, not Puerto Rico.

The website for the real Puerto Rico Bar Association is http://www.capr.org/.

You may be able to serve the papers yourself, or you may need to hire a professional process server.

Puerto Rico law forbids service of summons personally. If you serve the summons yourself, that is grounds for dismissal of the lawsuit. It’s a costly mistake that can be avoided easily, but the article fails to disclose this.

If your spouse does not agree to divorce, if you have complicated financial assets or children, or if one spouse requests alimony, you will need a hearing before a judge before divorce will be granted.

There is no such thing as “alimony” in Puerto Rico. There’s a type of support called “Pensión Ex-Cónyuge”, but the requirements are totally different than alimony.

And finally, my favorite mistake:

Wait for your court hearing, if a court hearing is necessary.

All divorce cases in Puerto Rico require a hearing. Always. There’s no way around it. From Mutual Consent, all the way to Cruel Treatment. A hearing is an undeniable requirement of all divorce cases. Always.

This just proves that you can’t completely rely on the information that is out there on the Internet. This especially applies even more so to legal matters. The author might have had great intentions, but if you follow his advice, you’ll have disastrous results. It’s always better to check up on your sources, and consult legal counsel. It’s best to consult with legal counsel who actually knows about divorces.

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