When it comes to love, the law and real estate in Mexico, you may want to consider these points in order to protect your investment.
Foreigners Require Permission to Marry a Mexican National
Foreigners marrying Mexican nationals are required to apply for approval of the Mexican immigration office. “Permiso para contraer matrimonio con un nacional,” is the document and it needs to be completed in the jurisdiction of the city where the couple plans to marry.
Residency Through Marriage to a Mexican
Foreigners who marry a Mexican citizen can obtain a temporary visa and eventually permanent residence. The marriage allows a foreigner one-year temporary residency, which may be renewed for a total of two years. Once two years as a temporary resident is complete, they may apply for permanent residency. No financial records are required, and there is no need to leave Mexico as the procedure may be initiated and completed within Mexico.
Joint Ownership or Non-Joint Ownership
The couple can choose whether their marriage will be Joint Ownership Property (sociedad conyugal) or a Non-joint Ownership Property (separación de bienes).
- Sociedad conyugal – 50% of the assets acquired before or during the marriage go to your spouse in death or divorce, and both partners are responsible for any accumulation of debt during the marriage.
- Separación de bienes – each spouse retains his or her assets; each spouse is solely responsible for their own debt.
Real Estate and Direct Title
When buying property as a couple, a foreigner should take precautions to protect themselves. Since a foreigner cannot buy property in the restricted zone, 50 km from the sea and 100 km from the Mexican border without a trust, they may allow their Mexican spouse to purchase the property with direct title avoiding the fideicomiso set up cost and annual fees. What happens if the relationship dissolves or the Mexican spouse passes away?
The safest solution would be for a couple to form a Mexican corporation in both names in order to purchase property in the restricted zone. The corporation protects both spouses and ensures the property will not be subject to claims from other parties.
Same-Sex Couples Living Common-law
Same-sex common-law couples should consider purchasing real estate through a corporation since some Mexican courts still view common-law a union between a man and a woman. Although same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico, same-sex common-law couples may face challenges when it comes to separation or the death of a partner and will need to provide proof of their union from the country of origin. Purchasing property through a corporation owned by both partners will protect their investment.
Verifying Concubinato (Common-law) Status
It is essential to research the law in the state you reside in as some states recognize concubinato in the event a partner dies, and some do not. The Federal Civil Code states when a man and woman who have lived together for at least two years as husband and wife they can register their relationship and receive a certificate confirming their concubinato status. In Quintana Roo, this type of certificate may be obtained from DIF (Integral Development of the Family).
Common law partners with a child are automatically considered to be concubinato, and if the couple separates, the obligations of parenting and child support are the same as if they were married and divorced.
There are no survivor rights in Mexico. Foreigners investing in real estate should have a Mexican will to ensure your partner can claim their share of the property. Without a will or trust, the government will divide your estate as they see fit, and this may include ex-spouses. As owners of a corporation, a will should be in place since the statutes state you cannot inherit your shares; a will is required to designate the shares to your partner.
If the property is purchased through a fideicomiso, the beneficiary of the property will be listed in the trust.
Living on Ejido Land
Couples may choose to build their home on Ejido land which is untitled. Mexicans are entitled to Ejido land, but a foreign spouse will not be able to claim the property in the event of separation or the death of the Mexican spouse. Also, a corporation can not purchase Ejido property.