Divorce Statute (Law 1306-bis of 1937)

 

DIVORCE LAW

CHAPTER I

Article 1.- (Amended by Law 3932 of September 20, 1954, O.G. 7749). Marriage is dissolved by the death of one of the spouses, or by divorce.

Paragraph 1.- However, in accordance with the essential properties of catholic marriage, it is understood that the fact itself of choosing to be joined in catholic marriage implies that the spouses waive their civil right to file for divorce, which for this reason may not be applied by Civil Courts to canonical marriages.

Paragraph II.- The provisions contained in the foregoing paragraph shall apply to catholic marriages celebrated on or after August 6. 1954, which was the date of the ratification of the Concordat between the Dominican Republic and the Holy See on June 16, 1954, pursuant to article 28, paragraph 1 thereof.

CHAPTER II

GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

Article 2.- (Amended by Law N­2669 of December 31, 1950, G.O. 7231). The grounds for divorce are:

a) The spouses’ mutual consent.

b) Irreconcilable differences, justified by facts the magnitude of which as a cause of unhappiness for the spouses and social disturbance constituting sufficient grounds for divorce shall be assessed by the judge.

c) Absence decreed by a court of law in accordance with the prescriptions contained in Chapter II of Heading IV of Book One of the Civil Code.

d) Adultery by any of the spouses.

e) Conviction of one of the spouses on a criminal charge.

Paragraph.- A suit for divorce may not be brought by this reason if such conviction is a punishment for political offenses.

f) Abuse of or serious insults to one spouse by the other.

g) Voluntary abandonment of the home by one spouse, if he/she does not return within two years. Such time shall be the starting point for an authenticated summons served on the spouse who has abandoned the home, by the other spouse.

h) Habitual drunkenness of one of the spouses, or the habitual or immoderate use of narcotic drugs.

SECTION ONE

Divorce Proceedings for Cause

Article 3.- All actions for divorce for cause shall be brought before the court of first instance of the judicial district of the respondent’s place of residence, if he/she has a known domicile in the Dominican Republic;otherwise such action shall be brought before the court of first instance of the judicial district of the plaintiff’s place of residence.

Article 4.- The plaintiff shall have a summons served on the respondent, in the usual manner, so that the respondent appears personally, or through a proxy provided with an authenticated written document, to the closed hearing to be held on such date and at such time as stated in the summons; and at the head of such summons, the respondent shall be given copies of the documents that shall be used to substantiate the plaintiff’s charges, if any.

Paragraph I.- Together with the suit for divorce, the plaintiff shall give the respondent the list of the witnesses whom he/she intends to have depose at the hearing.

Paragraph II.- Every suit for divorce shall set forth briefly, under penalty of nullity, the plaintiff’s petition regarding custody of the children, or it shall mention what the parties shall have agreed to through a contract made to that end.

Paragraph III.- A woman shall need no authorization to file for divorce.

Article 5.- If any of the facts alleged by the plaintiff should lead to prosecution of the respondent by the District Attorney, the action for divorce shall be suspended until the proper court of law shall have made a final decision regarding such matter.

Article 6.- At the expiration of the term for summons, whether or not the respondent appears at the hearing, the plaintiff, personally or by proxy, with the assistance of his/her attorney, shall state the reasons for his/her suit, shall submit all substantiating documents, shall have his/her witnesses heard, if any, and shall conclude as to the merits of the case.

Article 7.- If the respondent appears at the hearing, whether personally or by proxy, he/she may state his observations about the reasons for the divorce suit, about the documents produced by the plaintiff, or about the witnesses heard at the plaintiff’s request. The respondent may also have his/her witnesses testify at the same hearing, against whom, the plaintiff may in turn make observations. The respondent shall have no right to have his/her witnesses heard if he/she has not given the plaintiff a list of their names at least two days before the day of the hearing, exclusive of the date of the hearing.

Article 8.- The Court Clerk shall make a record of the parties’ presence at the hearing, of their statements and observations, of their confessions, of the witnesses’ testimony and of any objections regarding them. Such record shall be read to the parties, who shall be required to sign it, and an entry shall be made thereon of their signatures or their declaration of not being able or willing to sign. The witnesses shall sign the record at the foot of their respective declarations, after such record shall have been read and approved, and if they should not be able or willing to sign, an entry of such circumstance shall be made thereon.

Article 9.- Any objection of witnesses shall be judged at the same hearing, the Judge not leaving the courtroom, and the rules set forth in articles 282 et seq. of the Code of Civil Proceedings shall be followed regarding the witnesses’ evidence in the matter of divorce, excepting any special provisions to the contrary established in this law.

Paragraph.- The parties’ relatives shall not be objected, excepting their children and descendants, and neither shall be their servants by reason of such relationship.

Article 10.- When the hearing shall have finished, the Court shall order that the file be remitted to the District Attorney, so that he/she makes a decision within a term of five days, exclusive of the day when such remittance and such decision are made.

Article 11.- Before ordering the remittance of the file to the District Attorney, the Judge, if he/she shall judge it appropriate and if, in his/her opinion, the documents submitted to substantiate the action for divorce are not convincing, may order an inquiry in such manner as established by the Code of Civil Proceedings.

Paragraph: When the Judge shall have ordered an inquiry, the Court Clerk shall give a copy of the judgment containing such order to the plaintiff, so that the plaintiff shall have it served in due time on the respondent and on the witnesses whose names are listed in such judgment. The respondent may request that the witnesses presented by him/her and whose names are included in the aforesaid judgment be summoned.

Article 12.- After the District Attorney returns the file with the appropriate decision, the Court shall render judgment awarding or denying the divorce in question. Such judgment shall be pronounced publicly.

Paragraph I.- All judgments of divorce for cause shall state which spouse shall have custody of the children issued from their marriage, and the Judge must first of all honor any agreement made by the parties in this respect; but failing any such agreement before or during the action for divorce, the Judge must adhere to the following directives: a) All children under four years of age shall remain in the care and custody of their mother, provided that the divorce has not been pronounced against her for the causes set forth in sections e, f and i of article two of this law; b) all children over four years of age shall remain in the custody of the spouse who shall have obtained thedivorce, unless the Court, whether at the request of the other spouse or of any member of the family or the District Attorney, and in the children’s best interest, orders that the other spouse or a third party shall have custody of all or some of the children.

Paragraph II.- Regardless of who is entrusted with custody of the children, both parents remain entitled to see to their support and education and are obligated to contribute thereto in proportion to their financial resources.

Article 13.- When a spouse files for divorce because the other one has been sentenced for a crime, the only formalities to be observed are to submit to the Court a copy of the judgment sentencing the defendant spouse to a criminal punishment, a certificate issued by the Clerk of the sentencing Court attesting that such sentence is not susceptible of being reformed through any ordinary legal means. The Clerk’s certificate shall be visaed by the District Attorney of his/her Court of Law, or by the Attorney General of the Republic.

Article 14.- (Annulled by Law N­2669 of December 31, 1950, O. G. 7231).

Article 15.- All judgment of divorce for cause shall be deemed contradictory, whether the respondent is present or not, and shall be appealable; any such appeal shall be substantiated and shall be judged by the respective Court of Appeals as a summary matter.

Article 16.-In order for an appeal to be admissible, it should be attempted within two months after the date of notification of the judgment.

Article 17.- By virtue of a final judgment of divorce, and except if a cassation appeal is instituted–which is suspensive as a matter of law–the spouse who has been awarded judgment shall be obliged to appear before the City Clerk within two (2) months therefrom, in order to have the divorce pronounced and the provision of such judgment transcribed in the office of the City Clerk, and shall have a summons served on the other party to appear before the City Clerk and hear the pronouncement of divorce. The transcription of the provision of such divorce judgment shall contain the date, the number, if any, and the court of law which rendered it.

Paragraph.- The City Clerk shall not pronounce a divorce, and neither shall he/she transcribe the provision of the judgment unless all the formalities prescribed by article 548 of the Code of Civil Proceedings have been met, and unless he/she has been shown evidence that the other spouse has been summoned to attend the pronouncement of divorce, as set forth in this article. The City Clerk who pronounces a divorce in contravention of the foregoing provisions shall be subject to dismissal, without prejudice of any appropriate civil liabilities.

Article 18.- The period of two months stated in the preceding article shall begin, in the case of judgments rendered in first instance, after the expiration of the term for appeal; and those rendered in absentia in appeal, after the expiration of the term for opposition.

Article 19.- The plaintiff spouse who has allowed the two-month term established in article seventeen to expire shall lose the benefit of the judgment awarded to him/her, and may not obtain another judgment unless it is for a new cause, which nonetheless may include the previous causes.

Article 20.- A judgment of divorce shall be deemed not pronounced or extinguished if one of the spouses dies before all legal formalities are fulfilled.

SECTION TWO

Provisional measures which may be taken in a divorce suit

Article 21.- The husband, plaintiff or respondent, shall be in charge of the provisional administration of the children, unless the Court orders otherwise, in the children’s best interests, upon request by the mother, by the family, or by the District Attorney.

Article 22.- As soon as any action or proceeding is started regarding the divorce, the provision of article one hundred and eight of the civil code which states that the domicile of a married woman is that of his husband’s shall cease to be in effect. The woman may leave the husband’s residence during the process, and she may ask for financial support in proportion to his ability. The court shall indicate the house where the woman shall be obligated to live, and shall fix, if appropriate, the support to be paid by the husband. All notices, including whatever preliminary acts intended to establish proof of abandonment or other facts regarding the divorce must be served upon her personally, under penalty of radical and absolute nullity, or upon the District Attorney of the court in charge of deciding about such divorce, who shall take all such actions as shall be necessary for any such notice to be made known to the woman.

Paragraph (Added by Law 2153 of November 12, 1949).- In all cases where a summons has to be made by the District Attorney, it shall be obligatory for the plaintiff husband, under penalty of radical and absolute nullity, to publish previously an announcement in a national newspaper with widespread circulation, for three consecutive days, warning the respondent wife that, failing information regarding her place of residence, she shall be sued for divorce before the District Attorney of the court in charge of deciding about suchdivorce. Such publication shall identify the court, the date when the action for divorce shall be filed with the District Attorney, the cause for such suit, the name of the plaintiff, the name of the woman against whom the action for divorce shall be instituted, the woman’s last place of residence known to the husband, and the day and time set for the hearing. A copy in extenso of such publication shall be given to the District Attorney in charge of the case. The judge in charge of the case shall declare the suit non-receivable if he/she is not given proof that the aforesaid publications have been made, by depositing the three newspaper copies, certified by the editors, containing the three consecutive publications ordered by this law.

Article 23.- The woman shall be obligated to justify her residency in the house indicated, whenever she is asked to do so. Failing such justification, the husband may refuse to pay for support, if he justifies that the woman has abandoned the residence indicated.

Article 24.- The woman who holds property in common with her husband, whether she is the plaintiff or the respondent, may at all times during the proceedings–from the date when the suit is filed–require for the preservation of her rights that such property be bound. Such bind may only be removed after an estimate inventory has been taken, and the husband shall be obligated to produce the inventoried goods, or he shall be answerable for the value thereof as legal custodian.

Article 25.- All liabilities of the conjugal community, any alienation of real property held in common, incurred or done by the husband after the date when the action for divorce was started shall be annullable if it is proved that they defraud the rights of the woman.

CHAPTER IV

On Divorce by mutual consent and the procedures to be followed

Article 26.- The spouses’ mutual and persevering consent, expressed in such manner as prescribed by law, shall sufficiently justify that their life in common is unbearable.

Article 27.- A divorce by mutual consent shall not be admissible before two years of marriage; it shall neither be admissible after thirty years of life in common, or when the husband is at least sixty years of age and the woman fifty.

Article 28.- The spouses shall be obligated, before appearing in front of the judge who shall hear their case, to: 1) make a formal inventory of all their personal and real assets; 2) decide which of them shall have custody of the children born from their marriage, during the divorce proceedings and after the pronouncement thereof; 3) decide at which house the wife shall reside during the proceedings, and the amount to be given to her by the husband, for support, for the duration of the divorce proceedings and until a final judgment is awarded.

Paragraph I.- All these conventions and stipulations shall be made by means of an authenticated document.

Paragraph II.- When the foregoing formalities shall have been fulfilled, the spouses– personally or by proxy warranted by means of an authenticated document–provided with the documents containing the stipulations referred to herein, as well as with a copy of the certificate of marriage and the certificates of birth of the children from their marriage, shall appear before the Judge of First Instance of their domicile, and shall state their intent to divorce by mutual consent, and that to this end, they request authorization to institute divorce proceedings.

Paragraph III.- Failing the existence of birth certificates, due to the absence thereof in the city clerk records, a declaration before a notary public by several witnesses shall be entirely valid.

Paragraph IV.- In the case of Dominican spouses residing abroad, the conventions and stipulations may be drawn up through special attorneys and signed by them before a notary public of the jurisdiction chosen by them in the document containing the proxy. In such conventions and stipulations, the parties shall expressly give competence to a Judge of First Instance of the same venue indicated by them in the proxy, to hear and render judgment in the matter of their divorce.

Paragraph V.- Foreigners who are in this country, even if they are not residents, may divorce by mutual consent, provided that at least one of them is present at the hearing and the other one is represented by a special proxy, and that they expressly agree to submit to the competence of a Judge of First Instance and state so in the act of conventions and stipulations instrumented by a notary public of the same jurisdiction of the court of law chosen by them. For the case provided in this Paragraph, the provisions of Art. 2 of this law shall not apply.

Article 29. The Judge, in view of the spouses’ declaration, shall make a record of their depositions.

Article 30. After verifying that all legal requirements have been fulfilled in order for the action for divorce to be admissible, the Judge shall authorize such action, fixing a term of not less than thirty days and not more than sixty days for the spouses to appear in court; and in view of all the documents, he/she shall render a judgment eight days after the hearing.

Paragraph I.- Such judgment shall conform in all respects to the stipulations set forth in the documents mentioned in article twenty-eight, which may not be varied unless the spouses themselves wish to do so on the day of the hearing, upon prior mutual agreement.

Paragraph II.- For the case mentioned in Paragraph V of Article 28 of this Law, the Judge shall authorize the action for divorce, setting the date therefor within a period of tree days for the spouses to appear in court. After the hearing, the Court shall order that the District Attorney be notified, so that he/she may make a decision within a three-day period, exclusive of the day of such notification and the day of such decision, and the Judge shall render judgment within the three (3) following days.

Article 31.- The spouses, or the most diligent of them, are/is obligated to have transcribed in the Civil Registry the judgment admitting their divorce, and to have such divorce pronounced, which should be done not later than eight days afterwards, exclusive of the day of such pronouncement.

Paragraph.- In the case stipulated in Paragraph V of Article 28 hereof, after judgment has been rendered, the divorce may be pronounced by any City Clerk of the jurisdiction of the Court in charge of the matter, upon presentation of a certified copy of the judgment, previously transcribed at the Civil Registry, and the provision thereof shall be published in a newspaper of nationwide circulation.

Article 32.- A judgment ordering a divorce by mutual consent shall not be subject to appeal; and for the execution thereof, the rules established in the Code of Civil Proceedings shall be complied with, in addition to the formalities set forth herein.

Article 33.- The spouses are obligated to file with the Court Clerk all documents pertaining to the action for divorce by mutual consent, in such manner as set forth in article twenty-eight.

CHAPTER V

Effects of Divorce

Article 34.- If the divorced spouses marry each other again, they may not adopt a marriage regime other than the one they had before.

Article 35.- A divorced woman may not remarry until ten months after her divorce has become final, unless her new husband is the same whom she divorced.

Article 36.- (Amended by Law N­2669 of December 31, 1950, O. G. 7231).- A spouse against whom a divorce is pronounced for any of the reasons set forth in sections d), e), f), g), and h) of article two, shall lose all the benefits accorded to him/her by the other spouse, whether by marriage contract, or during the marriage.

Article 37.- A spouse who has been granted divorce shall retain all benefits granted by the other spouse, even if those benefits have been reciprocally established and such reciprocity does not take place.

CHAPTER VI

Inadmissibility Exceptions

Article 38.- An action for divorce shall be extinguished upon the reconciliation of the spouses during such action or after it has been instituted.

Article 39.- In one case or the other, the plaintiff’s action shall be declared inadmissible; however, he or she may attempt a new action for a cause developed after the reconciliation; in which case, he/she may use the former causes to substantiate his/her demand.

Article 40. If the plaintiff claims that there has been no reconciliation, the respondent may prove that there has, whether in writing or by witnesses, in such manner as established in articles seven et sequitur.

Article 41.- The proceedings ordered by this law are prescribed under penalty of nullity, and all time periods established are exclusive of the day when the requirement is made and the day when the required action is supposed to take place.

CHAPTER VII

Article 42. (Amended by Law N­136 of June 23, O.G. 9616.58).- The provision of a judgment of divorce for cause shall be published in a local newspaper, not later than eight days after the divorce has been pronounced, including the mentions regarding the pronouncement of divorce, and a copy of such newspaper shall be filed with the Court Clerk within the eight days following such publication, under penalty of a one hundred pesos fine to the spouse who has obtained the divorce, without prejudice of any civil liability incurred on account of his/her negligence. If there is no newspaper in the locality where the divorce has taken place, the aforesaid provision shall be published in a newspaper of the nearest province or municipality.

Paragraph.- In the case of divorce for mutual consent, the obligations established in this article shall apply to both spouses, under the penalty stated above.

Article 43.- Divorce law number eight hundred and forty-three, enacted on February nineteenth nineteen hundred and thirty-five, is hereby annulled.

US Embassy Memo on Dominican Divorce

American Citizens who wish to obtain a Divorce in the Dominican Republic should consult with a local attorney for advice and legal representation.

Before seeking a divorce in the Dominican Republic, U.S. citizens should be aware of possible legal restrictions by their U.S. state of residence on divorcesobtained abroad. It is advisable to contact an attorney in your state of residence to determine whether or not the courts of your state will recognize a Dominican divorce as valid. Some states, even if they will recognize Dominican divorces, may have special criteria or procedures particular to that state.

At a minimum, in order to be recognized in the U.S., the divorce decree must be “authenticated” by a U.S. Embassy consular officer. This authentication states only that the signature on the decree matches the signature of a Dominican official on record with the U.S. Embassy as an official competent and empowered to sign such a decree.

There are two types of divorces available to foreigners in the Dominican Republic: divorce by mutual consent and divorce for cause. The majority of Dominican divorces granted to foreigners are mutual consent divorces. In such divorces, the demanding party does not have to prove a specific cause for dissolving the bond of matrimony, but rather must show mutual agreement to dissolve the marriage. Although residency is not required, at least one of the parties must appear at the hearing. An attorney authorized by power of attorney duly filed in the Civil Registry Office may represent the other party.

A foreigner can obtain a divorce for cause (e.g., incompatibility of character, adultery, etc.) if he or she resided in the Dominican Republic and the cause of action or reason for the divorce arose during the period of residence. The divorce for cause requires the personal appearance of the plaintiff or his/her legal representative. In a divorce for cause, the judge has extensive powers, including the right to determine the disposition of marital properties and support payments, if any, for the spouse and children.

divorce in the Dominican Republic, whether by mutual consent or for cause, has no effect or validity until such time as certain precise steps have been taken during the final phase of the divorce process. The judgment or “sentencia” must be rendered and filed in the Office of the Civil Registry, or “Oficina de Registro Civil.” This filing date begins the 60-day period during which either party may appeal the judgment. The next step is to have the judgment “pronounced” by an appropriate, non-judicial official of the Office of the Civil Registry. The pronouncement ends the marriage. The parties are then considered single. Within eight days of the pronouncement, thedivorce judgment must be published once in a newspaper of general circulation. This publication is the responsibility of the parties involved and/or their lawyer. Without the pronouncement and publication of the judgment, the divorce is not valid under Dominican law.

Among the different effects produced by divorce are:

a) Spouses who remarry each other may only do so under the same system that governed their prior marriage; and

b) Divorced women cannot get married again until 10 months after their divorce is finalized, unless her new husband is the same man she divorced.

Obtaining a Copy of a Dominican Divorce Decree

The Dominican public registry offices operate differently from those in the U.S. and documents concerning legal procedures are obtained differently here. The only record of a divorce is a hand-written entry in a book in one of the many civil registry offices in the city where the divorce was performed. Since the records are not entered alphabetically but chronologically, they can only be retrieved on that basis. In addition, registry employees do not perform searches for the public. Books for a particular month are made available so that an individual or her/his representative can locate the desired entry. An extract of the record can then be prepared by the registry employee for a fee.

Searching for a particular record can be very time consuming unless one knows the precise date of the divorce and the precise location of the civil registry office in which the book is physically located. Therefore, if you cannot be in the Dominican Republic to perform the search, you should consider hiring a lawyer or other representative to obtain the extract on your behalf.

Quick Divorce: An Overview

A special provision in Dominican divorce law allows foreigners to obtain a divorce in the Dominican Republic in one day without any residency requirement, provided that both spouses are in agreement and consent to the jurisdiction of the Dominican Court. Only one of the spouses must travel to the Dominican Republic to be present in court. The other spouse may be represented by a lawyer in our firm after executing the required power-of-attorney. In any case a lawyer from our Santo Domingo office will accompany you at all times in court. The divorce judgment will be handed down the day of the appearance in court. The divorce documentation, including authentication by the parties’ embassy in the Dominican Republic, is sent by courier to both parties a few days after the court appearance.

Before going ahead with a Dominican divorce, parties are advised to consult local counsel to determine its legality in their place of residence. Although courts in some jurisdictions (New York, Connecticut, Tennessee) have upheld Dominican divorces and found them valid, courts in other jurisdictions either have not had the opportunity to rule on the matter or consider them invalid based on reasons of public order. Many web-based services offering Dominican divorces and some Dominican attorneys do not address this issue properly.

U.S. State Department Memo on Dominican Republic Adoptions

March 2006

Disclaimer: The following is intended as a very general guide to assist U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a child from a foreign country and apply for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. Two sets of laws are particularly relevant: 1) the laws of the child’s country of birth govern all activity in that country including the adoptability of individual children as well as the adoption of children in country in general; and 2) U.S. Federal immigration law governs the immigration of the child to the United States.

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. It does not necessarily reflect the actual state of the laws of a child’s country of birth and is provided for general information only. Moreover, U.S. immigration law, including regulations and interpretation, changes from time to time. This flyer reflects our current understanding of the law as of this date and is not legally authoritative. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office of the appropriate state government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.

PLEASE NOTE: The October 2004 entry into force of Dominican Law 136-03 changed many of the regulations and procedures regarding international adoption. Please refer to the eligibility and residency requirements listed below for further information.

The Dominican authorities will not allow a child to exit the country until the adoption is completed under Dominican law. For this reason, U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo’s Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit does not process immigrant visas in the IR-4 (“Orphan to be adopted in the United States by a U.S. citizen”) category. Depending on the circumstances of the adoption, the IV Unit issues adopted children visas in the IR-2 (“Child of a U.S. citizen”) or IR-3 (“Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen”) category. See the section below on U.S. immigration requirements for more information.

PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans:

Fiscal Year Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
FY 2005
21
FY 2004
18
FY 2003
1
FY 2002
1
FY 2001
12

DOMINICAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY: Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia (CONANI), the Dominican child welfare agency, is the country’s adoption authority. Contact information for CONANI:

Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia (CONANI)
Edificio Gubermental, Bloque D
30 de Marzo esq. México
Santo Domingo, República Dominicana
Phone: 809-685-9161 (Office of Adoptions, ext. 1182)
Web site: www.conani.gov.do
E-mail address of Adoption Coordinator: nuris.gomez@conani.gov.do

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR PROSPECTIVE PARENTS: For intercountry adoption, Dominican law permits only heterosexual couples who have been married for five years or more to adopt a Dominican child. The prospective adoptive parents must be between 30 and 60 years old and at least 15 years older than the child they wish to adopt. Singles and unmarried couples are no longer permitted to adopt from the Dominican Republic.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: One prospective adoptive parent must meet specific residency requirements. If the child is under 12, the parent must reside with the child in the Dominican Republic for 60 days; for children 12 and over, the parent must reside with the child for 30 days.

TIME FRAME: Many variables can influence the total time it takes to complete the international adoption of a Dominican child. In general, however, if the adoptive parents work to fulfill both the U.S. and the Dominican requirements simultaneously, an adoption can be completed within nine to ten months after the application is made in the Dominican Republic.

ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS: U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo is not aware of any private adoption agencies in the Dominican Republic. Prospective adoptive families must hire a Dominican attorney specializing in adoption. The U.S. Embassy’s list of attorneys can be found online at: http://www.usemb.gov.do/Consular/ACS/legal_assistance-e.htm. Neither the U.S. Embassy nor CONANI recommends any particular attorney. The list indicates each lawyer or firm’s area(s) of specialization and language(s) spoken.

Please see Important Notice Regarding Adoption Agents and Facilitators at our Web site travel.state.gov.

ADOPTION FEES: Attorney fees for the adoption of a Dominican child range from US$5,000 – US$8,000. All adoption-related expenses, including court costs and document fees, are included in this estimate.

ADOPTION PROCEDURES: Dominican adoption law is governed by the Dominican Code of Fundamental Protection and Rights for Children and Adolescents, Law 136-03, Articles 111-167. The adoption process is comprised of an administrative and judicial phase. To begin the administrative phase, prospective adoptive parents should hire a Dominican attorney to initiate contact with CONANI and begin the process of locating a child who meets the definition of “orphan” under both Dominican and U.S. law. Once the family receives and accepts the referral of a child, CONANI reviews the prospective adoptive family’s file of required documents (see below) and, if satisfied, issues a Certificate of Suitability. The family is then allowed to present its formal, legal application to the Dominican Court of Minors, which subsequently issues a Final Order of Adoption.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR ADOPTION IN DOMINCAN REPUBLIC:

Biopsychosocial study of the adoptive parents;
Legalized adoption consent;
Adoptive parents’ birth certificates;
Adoptive parents’ marriage certificate;
Declaration of the loss of authority of the biological parents or authorization for adoption;
Certificate of Suitability, no more than six months old, issued by CONANI;
Certificate issued by a civic, community, or religious entity/organization attesting to the physical, mental, social, and moral suitability of the adoptive parents;
Certificate confirming that the adoptive parents have fulfilled the residency requirements, issued by CONANI;
Certificate of completion of all criteria for the assignment of the child, issued by CONANI;
Prospective adoptive parents’ police certificates issued by a competent authority;
Prospective adoptive parents’ medical certificates;
Power of attorney from the adoptive parents to their lawyer, legalized by the Dominican “Procuraduría General”;
Copy of the identification documents or passports of the adoptive parents;
Act of No Opposition in the case of the existence of older children;
Certification issued by a competent authority that will provide follow-up on the minor’s adjustment;
Authorization or visa from the country where the child will live.

AUTHENTICATING U.S. DOCUMENTS TO BE USED ABROAD: The language describing the process of authenticating U.S. documents to be used abroad is currently under review. Please click on the following link for more information until the new language is finalized: http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/.

EMBASSY OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AND CONSULATE IN THE UNITED STATES:

Embassy of the Dominican Republic
1715 22nd Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 332-6280
Fax: (202) 265-8057
Consulate of the Dominican Republic
1501 New Broadway Ave., Suite 410
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 768-2480
Fax: (212) 768-2677

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS

Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. The USCIS publication is available at the USCIS Web site. The Department of State publication International Adoption can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site, travel.state.gov, under “International Adoption.”

Before completing an adoption abroad, prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to read the requirements for filing Form I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. Please see our flyer “ How Can Adopted Children Come to the United States” at our Web site travel.state.gov.

FILING AN ORPHAN PETITION

It is advisable for all adoptive parents to begin the adoption process by filing an “Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition” (Form I-600A) with the USCIS office having jurisdiction over their place of residence. This form is used by prospective adoptive parents who do not yet have a specific child in mind and allows the most time-consuming part of the process to be completed in advance. Once USCIS approves the I-600A, is it valid for 18 months. Upon approval, USCIS will send a notification of a favorable determination (Form I-171H) to the prospective adoptive parents and to the USCIS office in Santo Domingo.

Once the adoptive parents have identified a specific child and completed the Dominican adoption procedures, they should file the “Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative” (Form I-600) with the USCIS office having jurisdiction over their place of residence. Prospective adoptive parents who have an approved I-600A, however, may file the I-600 at Santo Domingo’s USCIS office. This option represents the quickest, most efficient way to file the petition and apply for the child’s immigrant visa.

Detailed information about filing these forms can be found on USCIS’s Web site at: http://www.uscis.gov/. If the I-600 is approved by USCIS in the United States, the petition will be sent to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC)in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The National Visa Center (NVC) retains the approved petition until the case is ready for adjudication by a consular officer at Embassy Santo Domingo’s Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit. I-600 petitions approved by Santo Domingo’s USCIS office are transferred directly to the IV Unit. The IV Unit will then contact the parents, inform them of the interview date, and provide additional instructions. For further information on the immigrant visa process, visit the U.S. Embassy’s immigrant visa home page at http://www.usemb.gov.do/Consular/iv-e.htm.

APPLYING FOR A VISA AT THE U.S. EMBASSY IN Dominican Republic: Americans living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov/, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the country of travel. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

U.S. EMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO’S IMMIGRANT VISA UNIT: Contact information for U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo’s Immigrant Visa Unit:

To send documents from the United States, you must use either the United States Postal Service or a private delivery service (e.g., FedEx, DHL or UPS). The mailing address if you use the United States Postal Service is:

IV
Unit 5542
APO AA 34041-5542
The mailing address if you use a private delivery service is:

Embassy of the United States of America
César Nicolás Penson 85A esq. Leopoldo Navarro
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
To send documents from the Dominican Republic, you must use the Dominican postal system, INPOSDOM. If you use INPOSDOM, the mailing address is:

Embajada de los Estados Unidos de América
César Nicolás Penson 85A esq. Leopoldo Navarro
Apartado Postal 11302
Santo Domingo, República Dominicana
Phone: 809-271-2171
SANTO DOMINGO USCIS SUB OFFICE:
Contact information for the Santo Domingo USCIS Sub Office:

Mailing address from the United States:
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
American Embassy – Santo Domingo
Unit 5542
APO AA 34041-5542
Mailing address if writing from any country other than the United States or if using a delivery service:

American Embassy
Santo Domingo
Calle César Nicolás Penson
Calle Leopoldo Navarro
Unidad 5500
Dominican Republic
Phone: 809-221-2171 ext. 6608
Fax: 809-731-4350
E-mail: dradoptions@dhs.gov

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Specific questions about adoption in the Dominican Republic may be addressed to U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo at the numbers listed in this flyer. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747.

Useful information is also available from several other sources:

Telephone:

Toll Free – For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, call Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.
U.S. Department of State Visa Office – recorded information concerning immigrant visas for adopting children, (202) 663-1225.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – recorded information for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676).

Internet :

Adoption Information Flyers: The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site at: http://travel.state.gov/ contains international country adoption information flyers like this one and the International Adoptions brochure.

Consular Information Sheets: The State Department has general information about hiring a foreign attorney and authenticating documents that may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flier. In addition, the State Department publishes Consular Information Sheets (CISes) for every country in the world, providing information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. If the situation in a country poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens that is not addressed in the CIS for that country, the State Department may issue a Public Announcement alerting U.S. citizens to local security situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the State Department may issue a Travel Warning recommending that U.S. citizens avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the Internet at: http://travel.state.gov/ or by calling the State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizen Services toll free at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.

USCIS Web site – http://uscis.gov/.

Dominican Republic Adoption Law

TITLE V
FILIATION THROUGH ADOPTION

CHAPTER I
GENERAL PROVISIONS

ON ADOPTION

Art. 111.- NATURE. Adoption is a legal institution of public order and social interest that allows the creation, by a judgment rendered for such a purpose, of a voluntary parent-child relationship among individuals who are not related by birth.

Art. 112.- SOCIAL AND HUMAN CHARACTER. Adoption is a mechanism of family integration and protection created for children and adolescents, taking into consideration their best interest, the process of which must be conducted under the constant vigilance of the State.

Art. 113.- EXCEPTIONALITY. Adoption should only be considered for exceptional cases and under such circumstances as are determined in this Code.

Art. 114.- STATE RESPONSIBILITY. The State has the obligation to create the necessary mechanisms to prevent the indiscriminate use of adoption. For this purpose, administrative processes should be channeled through the Adoptions Department of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia —CONANI), and they need to be reviewed by the Children and Adolescents’ Court (Tribunal de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes).

CHAPTER II
TYPES OF ADOPTION

Art. 115.- GENERAL. All adoptions are privileged. A privileged adoption may be national or international, depending on whether the adoptive parents are Dominicans residing in this country, or foreign nationals.

Art. 116.- PRIVILEGED ADOPTION. Through privileged adoption, an adoptee will cease belonging to his/her natural family, and all ties with the members of such family are severed, leaving such relationships without legal effects except as regards the legal impediments for marriage. The adoptive child has the same rights and obligations as the biological children in the adoptive family. Privileged adoptions are irrevocable.

CHAPTER III
DOMESTIC PRIVILEGED ADOPTION

SECTION I
SUBSTANTIVE CONDITIONS FOR PRIVILEGED ADOPTION

SUBSECTION I
WHO MAY ADOPT OR BE ADOPTED

Art. 117.- WHO MAY ADOPT. Regardless of their marital status, individuals over 30 years of age may become adoptive parents, provided that they have the physical, moral, social and sexual integrity that would enable them to offer a child or adolescent a home that would ensure his/her integral well-being. The same qualities shall be required of those wishing to adopt together. The age limit for adopting is 60 years. Exceptionally, a person exceeding such age may adopt under the following circumstances:

a) When, prior to applying for adoption, he/she has been in charge of raising, caring for, and protecting the child or adolescent.

b) In the case of relatives wishing to adopt a child or adolescent, when his or her parents have been divested by a decision of the court of the custody of such child or adolescent.

Art. 118.- WHO MAY PETITION FOR ADOPTION. The following people may petition for adoption:

a) Dominican couples who have been married for three (3) years; and foreign couples who have been married for five (5) years;

b) Dominican couples, consisting of a man and a woman, with at least five (5) years of known and uninterrupted union;

c) Single individuals who are or have been in charge of raising, caring for, and educating a child or adolescent;

d) The widow or widower if, during the deceased spouse’s life, both spouses had initiated the adoption proceedings;

e) A divorced or separated spouse, when the adoption proceedings were already in place at the time of such divorce or separation.

f) The spouse or member of a consensual couple may adopt the other spouse’s child;

g) The grandparents, aunts and uncles, and adult brothers or sisters may adopt their grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and younger siblings, whose father or mother or both parents are deceased, if the adoptive petitioners guarantee the adoptee’s integral well-being.

Art. 119.- UNWED PERSON. When an unwed person files a petition to adopt, the appropriate authorities should particularly and thoroughly consider the applicant’s motivation, in order to prevent a distortion of the spirit of adoption, and to propitiate, to the fullest extent possible, the optimal physical, psychological, social and sexual development of the prospective adoptee.

Art. 120.- EXISTENCE OF BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN. The existence of the applicant’s biological children shall be no obstacle for adopting. However, when such children are 12 years of age or older, they should express their opinion about the intended adoption at a personal appearance before a Judge at the Children and Adolescents Court, or at the Consulate of the country of residence of said biological children, where such opinion shall be received and put on record in a document to be submitted to the competent adoption authorities. Exceptionally, under circumstances deemed appropriate by the judge, they may express in writing their points of view regarding such adoption.

SUBSECTION II
CONDITIONS REGARDING ADOPTEES

Art. 121.- ADOPTEES’ AGE. In order to be eligible for adoption, a person should be under 18 years of age at the time when the petition for adoption is submitted.

Art. 122.- CANDIDATES FOR ADOPTION. The following persons may be adopted:

a) Orphan children and adolescents with both parents deceased;

b) Children or adolescents in State custody, or whose parents are unknown;

c) Children or adolescents whose father and mother have lost parental authority by a court judgment;

d) Children or adolescents whose parents consent to their being adopted.

Paragraph.- No person shall be subject to more than one adoption.

Art. 123.- AGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ADOPTERS AND ADOPTEES. There should be an age difference of not less than 15 years between an adoptive parent and his/her adoptee. Such age difference should be compatible with a parent/child relationship, and shall not be required when an adoption is made in favor of the other spouse’s child, with prior consent by the mother or the father—if the latter has acknowledged said child.

SECTION II
FORMALITIES REQUIRED FOR PRIVILEGED ADOPTIONS

Art.124.- PARENTAL CONSENT. The father and the mother are required to consent, validly and voluntarily, to their children’s privileged adoption.

Art. 125.- FORMS OF CONSENT. In the cases provided, parental consent shall be given in the adoption document or by means of a separate authenticated instrument signed before a notary public, or before the Justice of the Peace of the domicile or residence of the child’s parents or guardians, or before the diplomatic or consular agents abroad.

Art. 126.- INDIVIDUALS ENTITLED TO CONSENT. The following persons are entitled to consent:

a) Parents who are married or who have a consensual union: In the event of the adoption of children, declared or acknowledged, the father and mother should give their consent for the adoption of a child whose filiation has been established;

b) Father or mother incapable of expressing consent: If one parent is deceased or incapable of expressing his/her will, the other parent’s consent shall suffice. If both parents are deceased or incapable of expressing their will due to absence, disappearance, or mental defect, the consent for adoption should be given by the child’s legal representative or ad-hoc guardian;

c) Separated or divorced parents: If the parents are separated or divorced, the consent of both parents shall be necessary. In the event of disagreement between both parents as to the child’s adoption, the Civil Chamber of the Children’s and Adolescents’ Court shall be competent to decide whether the adoption is appropriate or not with the sole consent of the parent who has custody of the child;

d) Consent in the case of a parent divested of authority: The status of child or adolescent whose parents have lost their authority shall be established by the declaration of loss of authority upon presentation of the court judgment stipulating such loss. Consent shall be given by the legal representative, upon advice of the Family Council;

e) Children of Unknown Parents: In the case of a child of unknown parents, consent shall be given by the President of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia [CONANI]), in its capacity as ad-hoc guardian.

Paragraph I.- The status of child or adolescent of unknown filiation shall be established by the judgment declaring abandonment rendered by the Children’s Court of the location where the child or adolescent was found.

Paragraph II- Adoptees over twelve (12) years of age need to personally agree to their own adoption. In all adoption proceedings, the child or adolescent should be heard, taking into consideration his/her age and maturity.

Art. 127.- CONSENT OF ADOPTING SPOUSES. Neither one of the spouses may adopt without the other spouse’s consent, except in the case of separation or presumed absence or disappearance.

SECTION III
PROCEEDINGS FOR PRIVILEGED ADOPTION

Art. 128.- PHASES OF PROCEEDINGS. Adoption is a legal institution whose proceedings are administrative and jurisdictional in nature. Its proceedings consist of two phases: administrative-protective and administrative-jurisdictional.

SUBSECTION I
ADMINISTRATIVE PHASE OF PRIVILEGED ADOPTION

Art. 129.- ADMINISTRATIVE AUTHORITY IN CHARGE. The Adoptions Department of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia [CONANI]) is in charge of the administrative protective phase. There are two procedures to be followed in the administrative protective phase, depending on whether it is a matter of voluntary surrender or if previously there has been a declaration of abandonment or loss of parental authority.

Art. 130.- VOLUNTARY SURRENDER. A parent who has decided to give his/her child up for adoption should inform the National Council for Children and Adolescents (Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia [CONANI]) of his/her decision, justifying the reasons therefor, so that the said institution may choose an adoptive family for the child from all those having submitted and application for adoption thereto.

Paragraph.- If the National Council for Children and Adolescents (Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia [CONANI]) receives the child or adolescent, it shall be responsible for his/her protection until the adoptive family is selected.

Art. 131.- CONSENT FOR VOLUNTARY SURRENDER. The surrender of a child for adoption shall be made by means of an authenticated instrument subscribed by the biological parents and the President of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI), pursuant to all legal requirements.

Art. 132.- ADOPTION DUE TO UNKNOWN FILIATION. An adoption due to unknown filiation should be preceded by a declaration of abandonment, duly ordered by the Court of First Instance of Children and Adolescents, pursuant to the terms of this Code, at the request of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI), which shall submit to the court the results of the investigation of abandonment of the child or adolescent. Once the court has rendered its administrative judgment, it shall remit it to the Department of Adoptions of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI), in order for said institution to formalize the adoption.

Art. 133.- AN ADOPTION PRECEDED BY A DECLARATION OF LOSS OF PARENTAL AUTHORITY. In the case of children and adolescents whose parents have been divested of parental authority by a judgment of the Children and Adolescents Court, the Adoption Department of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI) shall promote their adoption in the extended family, or shall assign them a family from those who have filed an application with such institution.

Art. 134.- TRIAL PERIOD. Prior to filing a petition for adoption, the adoptive petitioners should live with the prospective adoptee for such period of time as is established in this Code, taking into consideration the circumstances in each case.

Paragraph I.- In the case of adoptive parents domiciled or residing abroad, the period of time for living together with the adoptee in this country should be at least sixty (60) days when the adoptee is under twelve (12) years of age, and thirty (30) days when the adoptee is twelve or older.

Paragraph II.-However, the concerned party, for reasons of force majeure, or taking into consideration the circumstances of the case, may petition a judge to reduce the trial period, provided that an institution from the adoptive parents’ country of origin guarantees the adoptee’s safety, as well as the observance of the conditions for the trial period. In the case of a child, under no circumstances may such period be less than thirty (30) days.

Art.135.- PLACEMENT OF ADOPTABLE CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS IN FAMILIES. The National Council for Children and Adolescents shall place children and adolescents in families qualifying for adoption according to the following criteria:

a) Upon completion of the requirements herein established, preference shall be given to applications for adoption submitted by Dominican adoptive petitioners over those submitted by foreigners;

b) The order of submission of every application for adoption shall be taken into account. To control the order of files, every application shall be given a number when received;

c) Characteristics of Children and Adolescents. The main criterion is finding a family for the prospective adoptee, avoiding those that would not be in the child’s best interests;

d) Preference shall be given to applications for adoption submitted by Dominican citizens, and failing those, to citizens from countries having ratified or adhered to the Hague Convention on Adoption. In this case, the adoption shall be subject to the clauses established therein.

Art. 136.-COMMISSION FOR PLACING CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS WITH ADOPTIVE FAMILIES. The placement of prospective adoptees shall be the responsibility of the Adoptions Department of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI), a psychologist working for said Council, the person in charge of the Center for prospective adoptive children, if that is the case, and two psychologists from two non-governmental organizations working in the area of family or children and adolescents’ rights.

Paragraph.- The Commission shall meet once a month, or as often as needed in order to make the appropriate placement, always according to the criteria established in the foregoing article.

Art. 137.-CERTIFICATION OF FULFILLMENT OF PLACEMENT CRITERIA. Once a family has been assigned to a child or adolescent, the Commission shall draw up a document certifying that the placement criteria established in article 135 have been met. Such document shall not be valid unless it is signed by two-thirds of the Commission members.

Paragraph.- Any conflict that may arise shall be settled by the Judge of the Children and Adolescents’ Court, upon petition by an interested party.

Art. 138.- ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATE OF SUITABILITY. Upon finishing the administrative procedures at the Adoptions Department of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI), the said institution shall issue a certificate of suitability to allow the adoptive petitioners to file a petition for review before the appropriate jurisdiction.

Paragraph.- The National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI) should issue such certificate of suitability within a period of time not exceeding two months after the end of the trial period. Failure to comply with this term is considered to be a serious dereliction of duty by the person or persons in charge of such issuance.

SUBSECTION II
ADMINISTRATIVE JURISDICTIONAL PHASE OF PRIVILEGED ADOPTION

Art. 139.- WHO MAY APPLY FOR ADOPTION. An adoption review request may only be submitted by those desiring to be declared as adoptive parents, or by their representative, before the Children and Adolescents’ Court of the domicile of the individual or entity having custody of the adoptee.

Art. 140.- DOCUMENTS EVIDENCING SUITABILITY . The request for review of an adoption executed by the adoptive parent(s) should be submitted personally or through a representative, together with the following documents:

a) Bio-Psychosocial Study of Adoptive petitioner(s);

b) Consent for adoption, duly legalized;

c) Birth records of the prospective adopters and adoptee;

d) Certificate of marriage, or act witnessed by a notary certifying the extra-matrimonial life of the adoptive petitioners, without lessening other requirements prescribed by this Code;
e) A copy of the declaration of loss of parental authority, or authorization for adoption, as the case may be;

f) Certificate of suitability, effective for a period not longer than six months, issued by the Adoptions Department of the National Council for Children and Adolescents;

g) A certification issued by a civic, community, or religious entity regarding the physical, mental, social and moral suitability of the adoptive petitioners ;

h) Certification of compliance with trial period, issued by the National Council for Children and Adolescents;

i) Certificate of compliance with children and adolescents placement criteria, issued by the Committee for Placing Children and Adolescents in adoptive families;

j) Certification of No Criminal Record, and certificate of no delinquency of adoptive petitioners, issued by a competent authority;

k) Health certificate of adoptive petitioners;

l) Special power of attorney given to the lawyer of the prospective adoptive parents, duly legalized by the Office of the Attorney General of the Dominican Republic;

m) Copy of the identification cards or passports of the adoptive petitioners and the biological parents;

n) Deed of no objection of the adoptive petitioners’ children over twelve (12) years of age, if any.

Art. 141.- APPLICATION FOR ADOPTION. The adoption review petition shall be submitted to the Civil Chamber of the Children and Adolescents’ Court, together with the documents described above.

Paragraph I.- Within three days after the submission of the application, the court shall send the file to the Defender of Children and Adolescents, who shall render an opinion within five (5) days after having received it .

Paragraph II.- Upon the expiration of the above-mentioned terms, the Judge of the Children and Adolescents’ Court shall render a judgment approving or refusing the application, within the next ten days.

Art. 142.- INSUFFICIENCY OF PROBATORY DOCUMENTS. If the judge deems that the documents probative of suitability contained in the file are insufficient as established in article 140, he/she shall grant the party concerned a period of ten (10) days to complete the file. At the expiration of such term, the Judge of the Children and Adolescents’ Court shall make a decision within the next ten (10) days.

Art. 143.- ADVERSARIAL PETITION FOR ADOPTION. In the event that the petition for adoption is impugned, the proceeding shall become adversarial, and the Judge of the Children and Adolescents’ Court shall fix a date for hearing the case.

Paragraph I.- Those entitled to attack a petition for adoption are the father or the mother and, in their absence, relatives up to a fourth degree of relation, following a Succession order, and the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI).

Paragraph II.- The judgment resulting from the litigation referred to in this article may be appealed before the Children and Adolescents’ Court.

Art. 144.- DEATH OF ONE OF THE ADOPTIVE PARENTS. In the case of a joint adoption, if one of the adoptive petitioners dies before a judgment has been rendered, the process shall continue with the surviving parent, if he/she wishes to pursue it.

Paragraph.- If the petition for adoption is made by only one person and he/she dies before a judgment is rendered, the process shall continue with all legal effects and according to the expressed wishes of the deceased and with due regards to the interest of the child or adolescent.

Art. 145.- SEPARATION OR DIVORCE OF THE ADOPTIVE PARENTS. If the adoptive parents divorce or are separated, the court shall apply to the adoptive children the rules of custody and visitation established in this Code.

Art. 146.- THE ADOPTEE’S FAMILY COUNCIL. The adoptee’s Family Council shall be established as provided in the Civil Code.

Art. 147.- REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTEES’ LEAVING THE COUNTRY. In order for an adopted child or adolescent to be allowed to leave the country, whether with foreigners or Dominican nationals, the judgment validating the adoption should be duly registered and legalized at the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic, at the State Department of Foreign Affairs, and at the Consulate of the adoptive parents’ country of origin. The emigration authorities shall demand an authentic copy of the adoption judgment, with proof of the enforceability thereof.

SUBSECTION II
PRIVILEGED ADOPTION JUDGMENTS AND PUBLICATION THEREOF

Art. 148.- CONTENTS. Adoption judgments shall include the reasons considered, even in the case of adoptions of a jurisdictional-administrative nature, and they should be written in clear and precise terms.

Art. 149.- TRANSCRIPTION OF JUDGMENT. Only the conclusive provisions of the adoption judgment need to be transcribed in the adoptions registry of the Office of the City Clerk where the certification of birth of the child or adolescent is made. Such transcription should be made within thirty (30) days from the date when the adoption judgment has become final and irrevocable.

Paragraph.- Such transcription shall include the day, time and place of birth, the sex of the child or adolescent, his/her names as resulting from the adoption judgment, and the adoptive parents’ given names and surnames, date and place of birth, occupation, and domicile. In such transcription, no mention shall be made of the adoptee’s biological family.

Art. 150.- REQUEST AND ISSUANCE OF COPIES. A transcript of the adoption judgment shall replace the adoptee’s birth record. When issuing copies of the birth certificate of an adopted child or adolescent, or when referring to any such child or adolescent in any document issued by them, city clerks shall make no mention of this circumstance or of the biological family, and they may only make reference to the surnames of the adoptive parents.

Art. 151.- MARGINAL ANNOTATIONS. When transcribing an adoption judgment in the adoptions record book, the city clerk shall write the word “adoption” on the top margin of the book containing the adoptee’s original record of birth. Such record may only become effective again if the adoption judgment is revoked.

Art. 152.-NON-RELEASE OF DOCUMENTS. All documents and administrative or jurisdictional acts regarding the adoption process shall be preserved for a period of thirty (30) years at a Children and Adolescents’ Court. Copies thereof may be issued only at the request of the adoptive parents or the adoptee, when he/she becomes of age, and at the request of the Defender of Children and Adolescents.

Paragraph I.- An officer or employee who allows access to or issues copies of such documents to persons not authorized in this article shall incur excess of power and shall be removed from office and condemned to a penalty of one (1) to three (3) minimum wages as established officially.

Paragraph II.- The Children and Adolescents’ Court shall have jurisdiction to judge this offense.

Art. 153.- LIFTING OF NON-RELEASE ORDER. The Children and Adolescents’ Appellate Court for the first-degree court that validated the adoption shall order the lifting of the non-release order when there is serious justification therefor, or when the exceptional remedy of civil revision has been admitted.

Art. 154.- AN ADOPTEE’S RIGHT TO KNOW HIS/HER FAMILY TIES. Without prejudice of the provisions of the preceding article, all adoptees have the right to know their origin and the nature of their family ties. The adoptive parents shall determine the appropriate time to provide them with such information.

Art. 155.- NOTIFICATION OF THE REVIEW JUDGMENT. The judgment validating the act of adoption shall be notified to the biological father and mother, or to the people in charge who consented to it, at the request of the Judge of the Children and Adolescents’ Court.

Art. 156.- SUSPENSION OF PROCEEDINGS. At the request of a party concerned, and with justified cause, the Children and Adolescents’ Court may order the suspension of the adoption process for a non-extendable period of three (3) months.

Art. 157.- IRREVOCABILITY OF PRIVILEGED ADOPTION. A privileged adoption judgment entails certain rights, and is irrevocable from the time when it is pronounced to be final.

Art. 158.- EFFECT OF ADOPTION JUDGMENT. The adoption review judgment shall produce all the effects that create rights and obligations inherent to the parent-child relationship. It shall contain the information necessary for its registration at the civil registry to constitute a birth certificate to replace the original one, which shall be annulled. The names of the birth parents, if known, shall be omitted in the adoption decree. Specifically, adoption produces the following effects:

a) It severs the original family ties. Privileged adoption terminates the adoptee’s original family ties regarding all civil effects, excepting marriage impediments;

b) It creates a parent-child relationship. Through adoption, the adoptee and his/her family acquire the rights and obligations inherent to the parent-child relationship, with all personal, patrimonial and succession prerogatives and consequences;

c) Marriage Impediment. Marriage is prohibited between:

1. An adoptive parent and his/her ascendants and the adoptee and his/her descendants;

2. An adoptee and the adoptive parent’s spouse, and reciprocally between an adoptive parent and the adoptee’s spouse;

3. The adoptive children of the same adoptive parent;

4. An adoptee and the adoptive parent’s surviving child.

d) Succession Rights. An adoptee acquires all the rights of children in the capacity as heir, and is entitled to inherit from family members both directly and collaterally;

e) Surname. The adoptive child acquires the adoptive parents’ surname;

f) Authority. Parental authority and the effects thereof are transferred from the birth parents to the adoptive parents.

Art. 159.- EFFECT BETWEEN THE PARTIES AND THIRD PARTIES. Adoption produces an effect between the parties and is opposable to third parties from the time the judgment is transcribed at the appropriate Civil Registrar’s Office.

SUBSECTION IV
ANNULMENT OF ADOPTION

Art. 160.- ANNULMENT OF THE ADOPTION DECREE. A petition of annulment may be filed regarding an adoption, when there are proven irregularities as to the substance or the procedure established in this Code.

Art. 161.- WHO MAY SUBMIT A PETITION FOR ANNULMENT. After a review judgment has been rendered, an adoption may be annulled at the request of the adoptee or his/her biological parents, the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI), or the Defender of Children and Adolescents.

Art. 162.- COMPETENT COURT OF LAW. The civil chamber of the Children and Adolescents Court is competent to rule about the petition of annulment of the adoption review judgment.

Paragraph .- The judgment resulting from the petition of annulment of adoption referred to herein may be appealed before the Children and Adolescents’ Court.

Art. 163.- TERMS. The terms available for requesting an annulment, to appeal, and to request a revision shall be those provided by common law.

CHAPTER IV
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

SECTION I
GENERALITIES ON INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

Art. 164.- DEFINITION AND NATURE. An adoption is deemed to be international when the adoptive parents and the adoptive child are citizens of different countries or their habitual places of residence or domicile are in different countries.

Paragraph.- Adoptions by foreigners who at the time of applying for adoption have resided in this country for more than three (3) years or are married to a Dominican national shall be governed by the provisions prescribed by this Code for privileged adoptions by Dominicans.

Art. 165.- CONDITIONS FOR ADOPTING. The adoptive parents of a Dominican child or adolescent should be individuals of different sex, joined in matrimony, complying with all legal requirements established herein for privileged adoptions.

Paragraph I.- A Dominican may adopt or be adopted by a foreigner. When a couple petitioning for adoption has children over 12 years of age, the provisions of article 120 shall apply.

Paragraph II.- All international adoptions conducted in the Dominican Republic shall be governed by the provisions contained in this Code, the Children’s Rights Convention, and the Hague Convention on Adoption.

Art. 166.- DOCUMENTS PROBATORY OF SUITABILITY SUBMITTED BY FOREIGN NATIONALS. If the adoptive petitioners are foreign nationals or Dominicans residing abroad, they should also submit the following documents:

a) A certification duly issued by the competente authority, stating their commitment to complete the adoption process of the child or adolescent until his/her nationalization in the adoptive parents’ country of residence;

b) Authorization or visa issued by the government of the adoptive parents’ country of residence, to enable the adopted child or adolescent to enter such country;

c) In addition to the required documents to prove suitability for adoption, as specified in article 140, the competent administrative authority may require from the country of the foreign adoptive petitioner or the country of residence of a Dominican adoptive petitioner such other documents as may be deemed necessary to these ends.

Paragraph.- When the above-mentioned documents are written in a language other than Spanish, they shall be translated by an official translator and shall be duly legalized, observing all pertinent formalities.

Art. 167.- ADVICE. The Adoptions Office of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI) may require the advice of public or private persons or competent professionals, in order to guarantee the follow-up of children and adolescents adopted by foreigners.

SECTION II
COMPETENCE

Art. 168.- COMPETENCE OF THE CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS’ COURTS. The Civil Chamber of the Children and Adolescents’ Court of the adoptee’s place of residence, or of the domicile of the person or entity having custody of the adoptee, shall be competent to grant international adoptions, upon such conditions as are established for privileged adoptions.

Art. 169.- REPEAL. Any provision that, in the matter of adoption, is contrary to the provisions contained in this Code is hereby repealed.

International Adoptions in the Dominican Republic

Legislation

The Dominican Constitution, amended January 26, 2010, guarantees safe and effective adoption policies under the law (Article 55). Law 136-03, enacted August 2003 and amended October 2004, governs international adoption in the Dominican Republic. No adoptable child may leave the country until the adoption process is completed as stipulated by Dominican law and an authenticated copy of the adoption ruling is presented to emigration authorities.

In addition, the immigration laws of the prospective foreign parents’ country of residence are applicable, and a couple seeking to adopt a Dominican child must carefully investigate the legal requirements for bringing the child into their country of residence before proceeding with adoption in the Dominican Republic.

Time to complete an adoption

The time required to complete an adoption in the Dominican Republic will vary depending on the time needed to obtain the necessary supporting documents for the authorities. However, in general, the process should take less than one year from the time a child has been assigned to the adopting parents.

Parent Eligibility

For international adoptions, only heterosexual couples married for a minimum of five years are eligible to adopt a Dominican child. Each parent must be at least thirty years old and no more than sixty, and at least fifteen years older than the child they wish to adopt. Singles are not allowed to adopt.

However, some signatories of the Hague Convention (Austria, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands) have raised objections to the accession of the Dominican Republic. Documents from these jurisdictions, therefore, must still be authenticated through the Dominican Consulate.

Local Adoption Authority

Privately arranged adoptions are not legal in the Dominican Republic. All adoption requests must be made to The National Council for Children and Adolescents (Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia or CONANI), the government agency with the authority to refer a child and evaluate the suitability of a prospective couple.

Prospective parents must hire a Dominican attorney with experience in international adoptions to navigate the adoption process, which is both administrative and judicial, beginning with the submission of an application to CONANI.

Documents Required for the Application

The following documents must be obtained and authenticated by a Dominican Consulate in the prospective parents’ country of residence, or by an apostille, if the country of residence is a member of the Hague Convention1. If the documents are not in Spanish, they must also be translated and authenticated as separate documents by the same process as the originals. The authentication procedure is specific to the couple’s country of residence and must be followed according to that country’s laws.

  • Power-of-Attorney to the Dominican attorney(s) handling the adoption.
  • Certified copies of the birth certificates of the prospective parents.
  • Certified copy of the marriage certificate of the prospective parents.
  • Copies of the prospective parents’ passports.
  • Biopsychosocial study of the prospective parents.
  • Certification of a clean police record for each prospective parent from the appropriate authority in their country of residence.
  • Affidavit attesting to the prospective parents’ good morals and civic behavior from a religious or community organization in their country of residence.
  • Affidavit guaranteeing that the prospective parents will monitor the child until the child is naturalized in the country where they reside.
  • Certificates of the prospective parents’ good health from a doctor in their country of residence.
  • Evidence of the prospective parents’ financial solvency (bank statements, salary verification, etc.).
  • Authorization or visa for the adopted child’s entrance into the prospective parents’ country of residence.
  • Written or documented verbal opinion about the adoption from the prospective couple’s children over the age of twelve.

After CONANI receives the prospective parents’ application, it will evaluate the applicants’ suitability as parents. If found suitable, the prospective parents proceed to a judicial hearing before a court of competent jurisdiction, which will either order or reject the request for adoption. If adoption is awarded, a new birth certificate for the adopted child is issued, and the adoption is complete under Dominican law.

Suitability Evaluation

When an application is filed with CONANI, a commission comprising the head of the Adoptions Department of CONANI, a CONANI psychologist, the head of the Center for Adoptable Children, and two non-governmental psychologists specialized in family or children’s rights, determines whether the applicants fit to be adoptive parents, and at least two-thirds of the Commission must certify that certain prescribed criteria have been met before referring a child.

The commission’s main criterion for placement is the best interest of the child. Although the commission will assign a child as soon as one is available, preference must first be given to Dominican citizens, then to couples from countries that have ratified or adhered to the adoption policies established under The Hague Convention, an international treaty. It must also refer a child to an approved couple in the order that applications are submitted.

If the approved couple accepts the child referred, both prospective parents must come to the Dominican Republic for a trial cohabitation period with the child. The trial period is 60 days for a child under the age of 12 and 30 days for a child over the age of 12. Within two months from the successful completion of this trial period, CONANI must issue a certificate of suitability, effective for six months, permitting the prospective couple to petition the court for judicial review and a final order of adoption.

Judicial Review

The Court of Children and Adolescents, located where the child’s legal guardian resides, has jurisdiction to review the petition for adoption. The Dominican attorney will file the petition and documents evidencing suitability with the appropriate court. At least one adoptive parent must be present in court; the absent parent may execute a Power of Attorney granting the appearing parent to represent him or her.

In addition to the documents submitted in the adoption application, the following documents must also be submitted to the court:

  • Power of Attorney.
  • Consent by the biological parents or legal guardian to the adoption, properly legalized.
  • Birth certificate of the adoptive child.
  • Consent by the adoptive child to the adoption, if twelve years old or older.
  • Certificate of CONANI’s compliance with the placement criteria.
  • Certification by CONANI that the trial period of cohabitation was completed.
  • Certificate of Suitability, issued by CONANI.

The judge will review the petition and render an opinion within 18  days from filing. If there are any errors in the documents submitted, the petitioner has 10 days to correct them before the judge renders a final judgment.

If a final order of adoption is granted, the court will notify any living biological parents of the judgment and the Civil Registry Division of Junta Central Electoral (JCE), which will authorize the issuance of a new birth certificate. The decision must also be authenticated with the Dominican Republic’s Attorney General’s Office and Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Consulate of the adoptive parent’s country of residence located in the Dominican Republic. Authenticated copies of the final order are required for the new parents to leave the country with the child.

Issuance of  a New Birth Certificate

The Civil Registry Division of Junta Central Electoral (JCE) must authorize the civil registry office that issued the adopted child’s original birth certificate to issue a new birth certificate. The child’s original birth certificate will be annulled and the new certificate will list the adopted child’s birth information, excluding reference to the biological parents, new name, and the adoptive parents’ full names, dates and places of birth, occupations, and place of residence.

The judicial process and issuance of a new birth certificate can take two to three months to complete. Once adoption is granted, it is irrevocable, and an adopted child is deemed to have the same rights and obligations as a biological child in the adoptive family.

Adoption Records

The adoption file is kept for a period of 30 years with the Court of Children and Adolescents that awarded the adoption. Copies of the file can be requested only by the adoptive parents, the adopted child upon reaching the age of 18, or the district attorney for CONANI. Although Dominican law recognizes the right of any child to know his or her origins, it is the adoptive parents’ sole decision when to tell the adopted child about his or her place of birth and biological parents.

GUZMÁN ARIZA ON INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

Guzman Ariza is the leading law firm for international adoptions in the Dominican Republic, representing adoption agencies in the United States, Canada, and the European Union. We assist foreign adoption agencies and adoptive couples in submitting a properly completed application for adoption, appear with the adoptive parents in court, and ensure that the new family has all of the documents necessary to leave the country and transition to a new life.