Protection of the family patrimony in Costa Rica
13 June, 2018




The Affectation of Family Patrimony in Costa Rica

Article 51 of the Political Constitution of Costa Rica mentions that “family, as a natural and fundamental element of society, is entitled to the special protection of the State.” Additionally, Article 65 of the same law also states, “the State shall promote the construction of popular housing and create the worker’s family assets”. This means that it is the State’s main obligation to protect the family, as well as its assets. In this case, the affectation to the family patrimony refers to the immovable property that is used as the residence of the family, which can be urban or rural.

The owner of the property can only constitute the affectation of family patrimony and the affectation must be made in a public deed, registering it in the Property Registry. The only people who can be beneficiaries of this affectation are the spouse, minor children, ascendants and cohabitating indeed. It is not necessary that these people live with the owner of the property; however, if it is necessary for the beneficiary to live in the property and have a situation of dependence, in relation to the owner of the property.

Legal basis regarding the affectation of a family’s property

The legal basis of the family affectation can be found in article 46 of the Family Law, which mentions that the property of family affectation cannot be more than 1000 square meters in urban areas, and 10,000 square meters in rural areas. The property cannot be alienated or encumbered (sold, donated, mortgaged, among others) without the consent of either spouses or cohabitants, and after demonstration in a process of diligences of utility and necessity.

The property that is under the affectation cannot be pursued by personal creditors of the person who owns the property, unless the debts have been contracted by both spouses or by the owner prior to the registration of the affectation to family patrimony.

This affectation is not perpetual, since it can be extinguished or terminated at any time, according to article 47 of the Family Law, for the following reasons:a) Mutual agreement of the spouses or cohabitants.b) Due to death or majority of the beneficiaries.c) By judicially declared separation or by divorce. In this case, the continuation of the affectation can be arranged, as long as there are beneficiaries with right.d) By judicial order, at the request of the owner, once the process has been filed and the utility and necessity of the affectation have been proven,e) When, in fact, the property ceases to be used for family inhabitancy or for small exploitation, after verification by the Court.
This affectation has as primary objective the protection of the family patrimony, so that the family always can always have a place to live, without having to worry about disposals by a negligent owner, or any type of lien for debt.


If you need assistance and legal advice in the matter of affectation to family patrimony or any other Family Law topic, at ERP Lawyers & Associates we are at your disposal to assist you, since we have professionals specialized in Family Law, with extensive experience in the branch. You can make an appointment through our website or by phone: