Last Reforms to the Ecuadorian Civil Code 

July, 2015 - Josemaria Bustamante, Alejandro Pérez Arellano

The Ecuadorian Civil Code is based in the code that made the great Chilean jurist Andrés Bello. The majority Civil Codes in Latin America are based in the Andres Bello Civil Code´s, which is based on the Civil Code of Napoleon Bonaparte. It has had several reforms over the time, on which attempt has been made to update to the reality and circumstances of each time. The Ecuadorian Civil Code is divided in four books: i) Persons; ii) Goods; iii) Succession upon death; and, iv) Obligations. The last reform introduced to the Civil Code was made in June of 2015. The Persons book was updated with the following dispositions: Regarding to the marriage, the prohibition for underage (-18 years) person to get married.

Besides, a person with proved mental disability, or that is unable to express itself by writing form, will not be considered as a valid witness for the marriage. An interesting point that is introduced is related with the obligation of the spouses to establish who will be in charge of managing the conjugal community. Previously, the law established that in lack of agreement of the spouses, the man will be in charge. Are included as new causes of divorce: The usual state of disharmony in the marital life; the unjustified abandon of any of the spouses for more than six months without interruption; and the adultery of one of the spouses. The reform also establish that in case of one of the spouses is Ecuadorian and the marriage was celebrated in Ecuador, the only way to dissolve or invalidate a marriage is by an Ecuadorian judge. Another relevant point, is the recognition of the Lawful Union as marital status. Hence, a person with this marital status can request the inclusion in their identification number. Also is important to notice that is open the possibility that same gender persons, can have the marital status of Lawful Union. However, the marriage is still limited to persons of different genders, ergo man and woman. Regarding the Lawful Union, another relevant update is the possibility to attend to a public notary or a judge for the legal recognition of this marital status. This allows to have a more quickly procedure.



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