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Divorce for Expatriates Spain

Divorce for Expatriates Spain


Divorce Advice For Expatriates In Spain

What is the Position of Expats in Spain if the spectre of divorce looms?

London is often considered the ‘divorce capital of the world’ mainly because of its liberal treatment of applicant wives particularly with regards to maintenance in the event of divorce. Wives living in Spain however do not benefit from the same opportunities; indeed if the divorce takes place in Spain they are usually seriously disadvantaged. Husbands note therefore that divorcing in Spain can often provide the best financial outcome. Even then though there is a possible lifeline to a disadvantaged wife. See comment on so called Part III applications below.

Using online divorce service was most beneficial to me. It allowed me to complete my divorce without having to take time off work which greatly reduced my costs, particularly as I live outside of the UK
– Mr T. H. (Ireland)

Any expatriate married couple contemplating divorce will need to consider the following:-

  • Are there sufficient assets or incomes to justify spending money on lawyers looking for the best options? If yes then,
  • Where could I divorce? And finally,
  • Where should I divorce?


English proceedings

Most expatriate wives will be advised to try to use English divorce laws because it is likely to benefit them. Where you actually live [habitual residence] is not the bar people think it is as most English couples can divorce in England because of their retained domicile. Please call for further information on this as it’s probably easier to explore your situation with a phone call or via Google Hangout/Skype. Husbands in some situations should also consider a divorce in England.

Spanish Local Divorce Law

If you are living in Spain and qualify on residence then you are most likely able to start divorce proceedings there. Regarding the division of assets, the rules are affected by where the couple live. In Catalonia, Aragon, Navarre, Balearic Islands and the Basque Country, ‘Separción de Bienes’ is the default system. This allows a couple to retain ownership of items that they brought with them into the marriage. Where joint purchases were made during the marriage they are divided according to the contribution made by each party. Court rulings have also attributed a financial value to non-financial contributions, such as doing domestic chores or raising children. In the other Spanish regions, ‘Sociedad de Gananciales’ applies, where all assets acquired during the marriage are considered to belong to both spouses equally, unless they are ‘private goods’. Dual ownership would apply to rental income, businesses and goods bought via instalments from the ‘matrimonial pot’. Local courts should adopt the law of England and Wales if a UK couple divorce in Spain but very often this does not happen. This makes the outcome in Spain unpredictable for UK expats. If there children of the marriage though the non-custodial parent will be required to support the children and to a limited extent the parent with care.

Remedies in England following a Spanish Divorce

If you have been divorced in Spain an application can be made in England under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 [The Part III procedure] which permits the English Court to consider whether the foreign court made proper financial provision. This is by no means a guaranteed second bite of the cherry though as the court must consider carefully a number of factors to decide whether the applicant should be awarded anything using the Part III procedure. To apply you must establish habitual residence or domicile in the UK. Clearly there must be assets in the UK to merit an application/award. Schedule One of the Children Act 1989 may also provide a remedy if there are children living in England with a parent.

Enforcement of English Court Orders in Spain

This is possible through the European reciprocal enforcement measures.

“I was dreading having to start my divorce in Spain. Thankfully I found and as soon as I had spoken to them I felt the weight lift off my shoulders”
– Bella (Spain)

Get in touch with us to arrange an informal chat about Spanish Divorce

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