Digital divorces: pilot project runs for two years

New law allows for online house purchases and ‘inheritance declarations’

Today (Monday) sees the start of a pilot project that promises to make divorces by mutual consent, house purchases and even ‘inheritance declarations’ (habilitações de herdeiros) much easier.

As opposed to requiring all parties to be ‘in the same place at the same time’, the process can now be conducted via the equivalent of a Zoom call (video conference) involving lawyers, notaries, registrars – even consular authorities if necessary.

The ‘platform’ created by the Justice Ministry, is to be managed by IRN (the institute of registrars and notaries).

Said president of the notaries’ order Jorge Batista da Silva: “If it is well applied, this will be a positive measure for everyone, as it secures access to acts from any point in the country and reduces bureaucracy”.

There has been (and in a way continues to be) concern that this is a new system that really needs to be ‘tested’, to ensure it works as it is meant to and not ‘abused’.

Jorge Batista Silva said there needs to be ‘special protection mechanisms for the most vulnerable, like victims of domestic violence or the elderly”.

As reports today explain, already written into the law is the ability for a professional to refuse to authenticate an act if he/ she “doubts the identity and/ or free will of those involved”.

One of the rules in force, for example, is that people taking up the service have to “show the space around them during the session”.

For now, the platform is ‘ready and waiting’.

Notaries up and down the country will start using it (the first have been notaries in Póvoa de Varzim, Lisbon and Oeiras, writes Correio da Manhã today) – and then in two years time an evaluation of ‘progress so far’ will be made, to see if any changes are required.

Recordings of every session will be ‘stored online’ for a period of 20 years, the paper adds.

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