Work Abroad but earn in USD

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Getting Married in Argentina

Today's reader question concerns international marriage. This is a legal question, so I will preface my response with the disclaimer that I am not a lawyer and that my response here is not intended to be legal advice. I am only writing about what I know through my conversations with people here.

Reader's Question

I have been dating an argentine woman for the past couple of years and am considering getting married in Buenos Aires. I plan to live in Argentina for half the year at this time. Can a prenuptual agreement serve for both USA and Argentina countries?

Am I automaticly legaly married in both countries or just Argentina? I dont have to deal with DNI and all the requied paperwork to become a dual citizen do I?

About Argentine Marriage

First of all, prenuptial agreements do not exist in Argentina. When I first heard this, I thought it was pretty strange. Likewise, the Argentines I was speaking to thought it was strange that we had such a thing in the U.S. However, the rules about marriage and divorce in Argentina are clearly spelled out in the civil law.

When you are married in Argentina, from that point forward, the husband and wife share all assets. If you were to divorce, all assets would be divided 50/50. However, any property you had before getting married is yours alone. So, if you can document that you owned some property, a company, or some investment before you married, it will be yours after a divorce.

In a conversation a while ago, I was told about a famous actress here (I believe it was Susana Giménez) who was married several times. In one of her recent divorces, it turns out that she made her husband sign a pre-nuptual agreement. The court ruled that the agreement was not valid and disregarded it, dividing her money with her husband.

The Dangers of International Marriage

There are a number of international treaties on marriage, adoption, child custody, divorce, etc. Anyone contemplating an international marriage should speak with a lawyer to see what laws exist between the countries of each partner -- if any. Forget the prenup issue for a moment and think about other even more important issues, such as child custody.

I was watching a 60 Minutes episode a year or two ago about an American woman who had married a Saudi man. They fell in love, married, and had children in the U.S. When the kids were just entering their teens, they moved back to Saudi Arabia. Eventually they divorced. The mother had no way to retrieve her kids. Even though she had a child custody order from a court in the U.S., it was not going to be enforced in Saudi Arabia, where the men have all the rights.

The woman snuck in to Saudi Arabia, took back her kids, and quickly fled to the U.S. Embassy. She was then thrown out by the officials at the embassy who didn't want to get involved. Eventually she repeated the procedure when her husband's family went on vacation to some other country and got just one of her kids back.

The point is, there are a lot more issues than just prenups to worry about when you get married to someone who may have a different legal system than you do. You must find out how the marriage and divorce laws will work.

Implications for Business Partnerships

The reason I know all this about Argentine marriage is that I entered into a partnership with someone from Argentina. In the U.S., you can have your partner's spouse sign a "post-nuptial agreement" so that in the event they divorce, your partner's share is not divided up with his or her spouse. This is important because you don't want your business to be taking on unwanted disgruntled ex-spouses as partners merely due to the changing marital status of the partners in the business.

In Argentina this is not possible. So, if you take on an Argentine partner in a business, you are potentially taking on their spouse as well. What's the solution for this? Your Argentine partner must prove that the money he or she used to invest in the business came from the assets he or she had before marrying.

In this scenario, the ownership of the business will be exclusive to one spouse and not include the other. Profits generated by the business, however, will be shared between the couple. So, if the business generates $1 million and the couple divorces, those profits would be split. This, however, is not your concern as a partner in the business. The underlying ownership in the business would not be split you could continue forward without fear that the disgruntled spouse would be making a claim on future profits of the business nor could he or she try to influence the operation of the company.

Dual Citizenship

Getting married to a national of one country does not automatically make you a dual citizen of the other. I know this for a fact for the U.S. and I'm pretty sure it is the case in Argentina as well. Typically you must live in the country for a number of years before you can be nationalized. That means the choice of where you and your Argentine wife live will probably determine who gets the dual citizenship.

In Argentina, you should contact ARCA, so that they can process your DNI and get your Argentina residency permit after you marry. In the U.S., I don't have a referral, but there are plenty of law firms out there that will process a residency visa for your wife.

Good luck and best wishes!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're planning a trip to BA and thinking bout getting married while we are there. We're US citizens, is it possible? What would we need to do prior to arrival to make it possible? Thanks!

5/04/2007 01:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This site is really helpful, thx to everyone for their participation! My fiance is Argentinean, we are moving back there and plan on getting married there. I'd like to live there legally (not on a tourist visa). Will getting married there grant me permanent residency papers? Can I go from a tourist visa to a getting a different kind of visa because of the wedding? Or will I have to exit the country while waiting on any kinds of papers? I am Canadian...
thx for any help you can provide...

7/27/2007 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger said...

Getting Married in Argentina

I am in the process of trying to get married here in Buenos Aires. I am an American, living here for about a year on renewed tourist visas, and I speak reasonable Spanish. I was divorced last year from my former wife, where I live(d) in Hawaii. My novia is Peruana, with a DNI and legal Argentine residency.

First I went to the Registro Civil here in Belgrano, Capital Federal. They told me that since I am not a legal resident, we had to apply in the district where my novia lives, which is San Isidro. This is in Provincia Buenos Aires, not in Capital Federal. We went there (on a Monday between 8 and 1, the only time they accept applications). They explained the process. First I get a copy of my divorce decree from a previous marriage, get it translated, then certified by the College of Translators, then stamped by the US Consulate, then stamped by the Ministro Exterior, then submitted to the Provincia Registro Civil in La Plata (1-1/2 hours away), then returned to San Isidro.

First try, we took a certified copy of my divorce decree to the translator, had a meeting with her in a restaurant, waited, went to her home and picked up the translation, took it to the college of translators to get it certified as being accurate, took it to the ministry of exterior. They said no, it has to be "apostillado de hawai" which means I had to get an apostille stamp from the Hawaii lieutenant governor's office on the original document. Everybody along the line had said take it to the consulate. Well, for every other country in the world, the government provides this apostille stamp, which authenticates the documents as being yours, or being genuine, or something. It's a big gold seal. But in the land of the free and the home of the brave, you gotta do it at state level.

Read on...

Called the lt gov's office, they said no problem, send us a certified copy of the divorce decree, it only costs $1. I had been through this before with other records. I figured no problem. Called the family court and got the right number for the circuit court documents office. Called them, she was very nice and made the copy while I was on the phone, she said as soon as I receive the $3.50 I will send it out. Got a friend to mail the request with a check, it took a week before she got the document in the mail. She sent it to the lt. gov's office with a stamped $25 express mail international envelope.

A week later I get the envelope here in BA, they declined to provide the apostille, said it had to be "exemplified" not just certified, plus I had not submitted a signed application form. I called and asked what the hell, they said call the court again for a new document, however they do not need an original signature on the application form. I called the court again, apparently to be exemplified the decree has to be not just certified but also signed by the judge and his signature witnessed. She said no problem, I will put it in the works, ready by Friday but we can't release it without $7.50.

I called and emailed another friend. I signed the application form and scanned it, emailed it to him. He walked into the court and picked up the document and sent it with another $25 stamped express envelope to lt. gov's office same day. They waited the full 10 days before mailing it, total about 2 weeks.

Received the second document, including a separate page with "exemplification" and another page with "apostille". Took it to the translator. She changed the order of the pages, because she had the original already translated, and didn't have a computer/printer in her house. Took it to the College of Translators, no problem. But wait...

Took it to the Ministro de Exterior, got there first thing in the morning to avoid the lines. There were 3 guys in a row, like the 3 monkeys (hear nothing, see nothing, speak nothing). They said no, the apostille needs to be on the front of the documents, this apostille was only for the exemplification page, it didn't mention the word "divorce". I put up an argument, pointed to signatures, notarial seals, dates. They said OK, but they didn't need to put a seal on it, the "legalizacion" from the College of Translators was good enough. On to La Plata.

We decided to take the train from Constitución to La Plata. Took a train to Retiro, then a Subte to Constitución. It was a protest day, and the station was crowded with protestors. Some were beating drums, I considered offering them money just to shut up. We got on the train, got seats, then guess what? All the protestors got on our train. The drums got in our car and kept playing. A woman was standing right in front of me, eating bread and dropping the crumbs in my lap -- at the same time carrying on a slapping match with a guy outside the window. Well, the protesters got off and we made it to La Plata. Got to the Registro Civil, were mis-directed upstairs, and when we got back down to the ground floor and the correct window, we were 5 minutes late -- they close at 1 pm. The ladies were very nice and accepted my application. I went across the street and made photocopies. Went down a block and paid $20 pesos at another branch of the office. Came back with everything together, she said fine -- this should be ready in about 5 weeks!! She handed me a tiny scrap of paper with a web address and a code number to enter online. I have been continuing to check this and watch the progress of the paperwork from one office to another.

Three weeks later I got an envelope in the mail. The enclosed documents said I had to provide 4 more papers, including a note from the US Consulate explaining that in the US we do not put "notas marginales de divorcio" on original marriage certificates. I emailed the consulate, went down there and waited in line for this document. Put it together with proof of my current address, photocopies of my passport with entry stamps, and evidence of the last address I had when previously married. Huh?

On to La Plata again. This time we took a bus

The girl at the desk (mesa de entrada) was only the hands and eyes. She consulted with the girl at the desk, who had at least part of the brains. She said it looked good, but had to go to the Escribano for a decision. Call back tomorrow. That was last week. We have called twice. The papers made it past the Escribano, but were awaiting the Director's signature. That's where it stands now. Waiting for Godot. Waiting for a renaissance of wonder.

Even after I receive this latest series of chops on photocopied documents, we still have to go back to San Isidro on a Monday between 8 and 1, and find out what the waiting period will be there. I am wondering if it might still be faster to apply for a fiancee visa and go to the states to get married.

8/01/2007 01:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to initiate a discussion of something that has me puzzled. I find many Argentines who claim to be "married" and who, on further questioning turn out to have been cohabiting. The longer the cohabitation, the more validity the term married seems to imply.

In a discussion with friends here in Buenos Aires, I insisted that it is a misrepresentation to call marriage anything other than the formal and legal connection between two people (regardless of sex, as far as I'm concerned, but that's another subject altogether). It seems to me that it's akin to a psychologist claiming he or she is a psychiatrist. I was told they did not see the difference and furthermore there were such social sanctions to not being married that it was better for everyone to call the union a "marriage" even if never entered into civilly. I pointed out that this is a copout--that one ought to change the system to accept non-legal unions as valid and not to disguise reality with false names.



1/22/2008 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This site is very instersting... I am Argentinian, living in Argentina. Myy fiancee is English. And we want to get married in Argentina. Don't you know if she needs a visa to marry me here? Or she can get married just being a visitor? She is coming by May and she will stay 20 days and then we will go to England, (I will go as a visitor of course) is it possible? Does anyone knows what do we need to do? Thanks....

2/13/2008 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous, you probably have an answer by now, but i've been looking at this question too. according to info on US Embassy Buenos Aires' website, if you are an Argentinian your fiancee can marry you in Argentina, even on a tourist visa. all you need is the paperwork and medical tests required.

i do have a question for everyone though ... how long does it take to get permanent residency through marriage. i'm aware that permanent residency is available to expats married to Argentinian's so long as proper paperwork is submitted, but i have not seen how long this process takes ... weeks, few months, many months?

3/23/2008 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger free-range said...

Did the above comment get answered? I am also seeking residency based on my marriage to an Argentine citizen. I would like to hear about others' experiences....

9/18/2009 01:14:00 AM  
Blogger Nicoenarg said...

Regarding how long it takes to get permanent DNI.

It takes a long time. I have met people for whom it has taken over 2 years. However, you get the temporary DNI in no time. That's a document that gets you the same rights as a permanent DNI holder but the only problem is that you can't be out of the country with that document for more than 3 months. And you have to keep renewing it, I can't remember how often. (I think it was 3 months).

Hope this helps.

As for whether you can get married to an Argentine on a visitor's visa. The answer is, YES. The only requirement is that one of the people getting married should be either Argentine or a permanent resident of Argentina. Remember also that if the Argentine lives in another country and has changed her address from an Argentine one to that other country, the Argentine needs to change it back to the one in Argentina before you can get married in Argentina.

10/20/2009 04:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Help said...

I am wanting as much feedback as possible. My fiance lives in Argentina and I live in the US. I am trying to bring him back to the US and have contacted immigration about bringing him back. We have a 7 year old son together. Which id best going to Argentina a marrying him and bringing him back as my husband or petitioning for a fiance visa. He first came to the US on a visitors visas and the visa expired. He got a speeding ticket and didn't take care of the problem so one day he got caught driving and the police took him to jail. They put an immigration hold on him and then soon deported him back to Argentina. The also put a 5 year ban on him from entering back to the US. I am wondering if anybody has any similar situations and if so what was your outcome. I have been to visit there back in 2003 but hav had hard times returning. I am ready to come again and see him and we are contemplating getting married in Argentina. Is the process easy and if not how much time is needed. I am trying to keep my current job in US and return back to it, but if this process is difficult then I will just have to come and visit and petition for a fiance visa? Im very confused and by reading some of the commens and the blog it was helpful but Im just not sure exactly. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

5/17/2010 10:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello help!
I am in the same situation except I have a ten year ban for the same reason. Have you had any news in regards to taking him back to the US? If you have any information at all, please HELP!
He is coming now and we are getting married here in provincia. After that our plan is to go back to the states, but we don't know how long the process is for a tourist or fiancee visa for me. Any help will be appreciated! thanks....

7/05/2010 02:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The information you all posted it has been certainly helpful. That said, I am a resident of the US, but I am also an argentinian citizen. My fiancee and I, who is an america, are going to Argentina at the end of the year. We would like to get married there, but I do not longer have an address in Argentina to show with my DNI. Although, my parents still live there. Any thoughts?

7/09/2011 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For any of you who are trying to get Argentine residency for your U.S. spouse, you need a Residency Visa. It's 3 years temporary and then, Permanent. Not Citizenship but a Permanent Residency Visa.

I can only talk from the standpoint of my experience because I(we) just got our temporary Residence Visa. When you enter Argentina as a tourist, that's for 3 months. When you get your Temporary Residence Visa, that's for 1 year(but you can't leave for more than 6 months). After 3 years it's permanent. For our Residencey Visa it took, a 3 year Criminal report, Birth Certificate(appostilled and translated[best to do it in the U.S. Too difficult down here). A marriage License(of course if you're not married you won't need one)(Apostilled and translated). The rest of the things you need you can get down here. After that they'll give you a DNI, which is very important. You can't register a car without one, etc. Hope it helps alittle. Summarising, Get a Criminal report for the last 3 years that you lived, a birth and marriage license(apostilled and translated) while you're in the U.S. and the rest you should be able to get down here.(Except if you're going for a Retirement Visa then there's one more thing you need, an apostilled and translated letter of proof of income).

9/13/2011 12:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Madhur Anand said...

I want to ask a very simple question. I am in relationship with the Argentinian girl, She is permanent residence of BS AS and we both want to marry and want to stay in Buenos Ares. I belong to India. Any one can please tell me what are the formalities we both have to fulfill or what are the documents we both need to get permission to live in Buenos Ares.

And what Visa should I apply for.

I am not any employee of any company and neither i have a big business so that I apply for Business Visa for Argentina.

Can I apply for Tourist Visa and get marry to my girlfriend. But it is also said that the Tourist Visa is only Valid for 90 days. But after marriage what will I do to get my Visa extended and to stay in BS AS for my whole life.

I would really be Thankful for your suggestions and answers.

9/23/2011 05:19:00 AM  

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