Exequatur of Divorce Sentences in DR

A reader of mine recently emailed me with a question. Here’s what she wrote: “[I]’m from Dominican Republic but I actually live in New Jersey, US. I recently went through a very difficult process of divorce here in NJ after being married for 7 years with my now ex husband. Someone told me that in order to have the divorce sentence recognized by the authorities of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) I have to follow a proceed to obtain what is called an exequatur of the judgment. The truth is that I don’t want to handle with this problem again. Is there any other solution? Mary Vargas.”

And here is my answer:

Mary, thanks for the question. First of all, for those who don’t know, an exequatur is a proceeding where a local court (in this case the Civil and Commercial Chamber of the competent First Instance Court) validates a foreign judgment, allowing its execution in our country.

On the other hand, I’m pleased to tell you that you don’t need to follow this procceding to validate your divorce judgment in the DR, because as it has been decided by our Supreme Court of Justice (October 9th 2002 and April 11th 2007 for example), the declaratory judgments, – that declares the rights or legal status of a person without ordering anything be done-, (like the ones of divorce, paternity recognition, declaratory of legal incapacity), do not need to obtain an exequatur to be executed in the DR.

This means that the only judgments that require this judicial authorization are those that establish, modify or abolish a legal right, compelling a party to fulfill an obligation (for example those who sentence the employers to pay the complete salaries to their employees, or sentence the doctors to compensate their patients because of the damages that they suffer after a malpractice).

Finally, it is important to say that in this proceeding, the Dominican Court cannot resolve the case by itself, instead, the judge can only verify that it is a definitive and regular judgment, according to the legal system of the foreign country and verify that its execution is in accordance with the Dominican law and our Constitutional Principles.