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.
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.
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!