Got Married or Divorced in the United States? What Do You Do Now?

This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish


By Atty. Jefferson Calili

Did you get married or divorced in the United States? Perhaps you are considering getting divorced, but your partner lives in Brazil? You may find yourself in one of those situations or you may know someone who is.

Once you are in a foreign land, it is natural to live your life as if you were going to stay in that place forever. Getting married or even divorced is all part of the process.

Many marriages may occur between people from different nationalities. On another hand, many times divorce happens even if the wedding occurred in the couple’s country of origin.

Immigrants, especially of Brazilian heritage, end up leaving the formalities of a divorce unregistered in Brazil especially because the bureaucracy in Brazil is much greater than it is in the United States, which is why many people postpone the resolution of their marriage dissolution.

The problem is when the person decides to return to Brazil or wants to remarry; he or she will encounter several problems to fix that situation in their motherland. For a marriage or divorce to have legal significance, it must go through the homologation process in Brazil.

Brazilian lawyer Jefferson Calili Ribeiro, via email and Facebook, explains that many people often postpone the homologation of their marriage or divorce, creating problems down the line with their documentation.

The ideal, he recommends, is as soon as the decision of the divorce is out, the party involved should homologate it in Brazil, preventing future complications. The same must be done for marriages. After getting married in the United States, the couple should register their marriage with a town clerk in Brazil.

That process is important mainly for practical reasons, explains Jamir Calili, Law Professor at the Juiz de Fora Federal University (UFJF) in Brazil. “If you decide to return to Brazil, your documentation needs to have all information about marriage or divorce abroad. Therefore, if you leave it to resolve later on, in the case of a divorce, for instance, you may not be able to find your former spouse, and that will prevent you from remarrying or even managing your assets.”

To avoid complications, Attorney Jefferson Calili, with a family law practice involving situations of international disputes, recommends that the person contact a lawyer in Brazil as soon as they are married or divorced to file the homologation process in the clerk’s office and in the Brazilian justice system, especially if there are children and personal assets involved.

According to Atty. Calili, those formalities are simple and don’t require a lot of time to resolve as long as they are filed at the very beginning because they only need little documentation and the agreement of both parties involved. However, what delays the process is the backlog in the justice system in Brazil.

If you find yourself in any of the situations above, do not wait until the last minute to resolve it because first, it will cost you more, and second, you may be missing documents, which will prevent you from resolving it within the time you expect.

Atty. Calili emphasizes that it is important to look for lawyers that have experience in that area to prevent delays or fraud. The key is not to wait until later and hire a trusted lawyer in Brazil.

Jefferson Calili Ribeiro is an attorney specialized in family law & criminal defense. He is a partner at the MF e JCalili Advogados Associados office, located at Rua Israel Pinheiro, 2801, Sala 608, Governador Valadares, MG, Brazil. The office practices law all over Brazil. If you have any questions relating to this topic, you can contact Attorney Calili by email at

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