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Mexican Law/Divorce in U.S. Property in Mexico

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Question
QUESTION: Honest. An American friend was married in the U.S. to a Mexican woman. They reside in Baja and have been married 7 years. No kids. She lives in his house which is in his name. If he filed for divorce in California, where they were married, what rights does she have on any of his holdings in Mexico or any future earnings ie, pension and investment income?

ANSWER: Hi Leon,

When you get married in Mexico, you need to choose the type of "regimen" that will govern property in the marriage. One is called: "Régimen de Bienes Mancomunados" and the other is "Régimen de Bienes Separados". The former means that all acquired property becomes community property. The latter implies that all property belongs to one or the other spouse.

So the first question is: which regimen was chosen?

The most common is the "Régimen de Bienes Mancomunados". If that is the case, and assuming the house was purchased after the marriage, the wife takes half.

In Mexico, a wife usually does not receive alimony if there are no children and she is capable of working. She would probably have no claim over future earnings and pensions. Investment income would depend on when the investment was made and the source of the original capital.

Hope this helps.

Lic John Lee Ward

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I'm still unclear. They were married in the U.S., not in Mexico. Does this make a difference?  California. All property for both parties were purchased prior to marriage.

Answer
Hi Leon,

I am not a US lawyer so I should not be giving advice on California law or what might happen in a Califronia divorce proceeding. But, as a general rule, under both Mexican law and California law as it relates to Community property, property acquired before the marriage does not become community property.

However, in California, the amount in which a property appreciates during the marriage might be considered "community". This does not occur under Mexican law. In other words, the amount that separate property appreciates during the marriage does not become part of the community.

All in all, if the house in Mexico is in the name of the husband and it was acquired by the husband before the marriage, he would be much better off initiating a divorce in Mexico rather than risk complications in California.

Hope this helps.

John  

Mexican Law

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John Lee Ward

Expertise

I can respond to any question related to Mexican Law and common business practices in Mexico. I can also compare and contrast between the American and Mexican legal systems.

Experience

Licenciatura en Derecho from the Universidad del Golfo en Cordoba, Veracruz. (Cedula Profesional No. 5713238) Maestria en Derecho from the Universidad de Cristobal Colon en Veracruz, Veracruz. (Cedula Professional No. 6358321) Currently a Candidate for a Doctorado en Derecho from the Universidad de Cristobal Colon. 5 years of litigation experience in Mexico.

Education/Credentials
Bachelors in Electronic Engineering, California Polytechnic State Univ. Juris Doctor, Concord University in Los Angeles Licenciatura en Derecho, Universidad del Golfo, Mexico Maestria en Derecho, Universidad de Cristobal Colon, Mexico Doctorado en Derecho (In Progress), Universidad de Cristobal Colon, Mexico

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