It is a sad fact of life that not every marriage ends happily. If you and your spouse have made the decision that it’s time to seek a divorce in Spain, then you may be wondering where to start. The good news is that getting a divorce in Spain is just as straightforward as it is to get a divorce in the UK; however, unlike in the UK if your split is amicable then you can seek a ‘no fault’ divorce, meaning that neither party has to accept the blame, or even cite a reason for seeking a divorce. Here’s everything you need to know about how to get a divorce in Spain:
Are You Eligible for a Divorce in Spain?
The main criteria you must meet to ensure you are eligible to seek a divorce in Spain are:
- If you and your spouse are both Spanish residents at the time of filing for divorce (you don’t have to be Spanish citizens)
- If you and your spouse are Spanish nationals no matter where you live, provided you are seeking a divorce by mutual agreement.
- If you are the plaintiff and are a Spanish national and living in Spain.
- If you are the defendant and are a Spanish resident, but you don’t have to be a Spanish national.
In order to seek a divorce by mutual agreement you need to have been married for at least three full months, and you don’t have to be legally separated before you can seek a divorce in Spain. You can only seek a divorce before three full months of marriage if: there is a proven danger to the life, physical integrity, liberty, moral integrity or sexual liberty or indemnity of the petitioner.
The Types of Divorce Available in Spain
You can apply for either a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce: in both cases, once the divorce is granted both parties can legally remarry. To help you decide which type of divorce will be best for you, here are details of both options:
An Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is the fastest way to get a divorce in Spain: provided it is straightforward and with no complications, this can take place in just weeks. A divorce is uncontested if both parties agree that the marriage is over Before they meet the judge, both parties should agree to a governing convention (convenio regulador). This is the contract of agreement cabout what will happen to the assets of the marriage and it usually covers:
- Cohabitation and custody arrangements for any children. This should also detail clear visitation rights for the non-custodial parent.
- The sum that will be paid for children’s alimony.
- Any compensation allowance or alimony that any spouse will be paid
- What will happen to the family home
- Who will contribute to any family expenses, and how will these costs or assets be shared.
The power to grant a divorce in Spain rests with the judge. When you attend your divorce hearing in front of the judge you should bring your marriage certificate and your children’s birth certificates (if you have children) as well as the document outlined above. You cannot represent yourself: you will also need a legal representative (Procurador) and a Spanish lawyer.
A Contested Divorce
A contested divorce in Spain is where the divorce petition is filed by only one of the parties in the marriage. In this case, the divorce process can be long and somewhat complicated (as well as more expensive). In order to secure a governing convention (convenio regulador) that is satisfactory to both parties you may require negotiation and communication between lawyers and the production of third-party evidence, which will all add up if you’re paying your lawyer by the hour. The actual process of standing in front of the judge, and the paperwork you will need, is just the same as in an uncontested divorce, but the process of getting a contested divorce to this stage can take anywhere from a few months to a more than a year.
It is not always possible, but if you can reach an agreement without the additional legal support of an uncontested divorce, the whole process will be faster, cheaper, and all-round easier too.
On Division of Assets
Finally, it’s important to note that where you stand on the division of any marital assets will depend on where you reside. In Catalonia, Aragon, Navarre, Balearic Islands and the Basque Country, ‘Separción de Bienes’ is the default system. This means that, unless the couple agree otherwise, they each get to keep any items they brought into the marriage with them, and any marital assets are divided according to the contribution made by each party; non-financial contributions, such as chores and raising children, are taken into consideration.
In the other Spanish regions,a Sociedad de Gananciales system applies. This divides all marital assets equally between both parties, and this applies to property, rental income, businesses and anything else that has been purchased by either party.
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