If you’re one of the many foreign couples living in Spain and have decided to separate, taking counsel from an expert in international divorce can make all the difference. In this article, we look at why and the key points to consider in your divorce litigation strategy.
As one of the top relocation destinations in the world, Spain attracts scores of international couples every year. Mixed-nationality marriages are common in the most popular parts of the country such as Madrid, Barcelona and the Costas. While this mix provides an enriching cultural experience while the union lasts, the different nationalities can complicate matters if the couple decides to separate.
“It’s true to say that international couples in Spain face the same difficulties as Spaniards themselves when it comes to divorce,” says Julio Prieto at Del Canto Chambers. “However, international divorce in Spain involves certain complexities that can be overwhelming, which is where expert international counsel comes in.”
Choose your divorce strategy
If you or your spouse are not Spanish nationals, you have the option of international divorce. Herein lies the advantage of the choice of jurisdiction applying to your divorce proceedings. For example, a British spouse living in Spain may decide to apply UK law and jurisdiction to the proceedings.
However, this choice needs careful consideration since benefits in one jurisdiction may not apply in another. When choosing where to carry out divorce proceedings, bear in mind your nationality, where you got married and the location of your principal family domicile.
To ensure you pick the right jurisdiction for your circumstances, take advice from an international lawyer conversant in divorce law in Spain and options available in the UK, for example.
Points to consider in divorce
Among the many factors involved in international divorce, the following are among the most important:
- Place of marriage and principal family domicile – the latter is usually the country where you live or have the strongest connection.
- Income and net assets of the other party – at Del Canto, we recommend that an international search is conducted to ensure that all assets are counted.
- Children and arrangements for custody.
- Prenuptial agreements and arrangement of marital assets – for example, you may have a community of assets (known as regimen de gananciales in Spanish) or separate assets (separación de bienes).
- Domestic violence.
Other factors to think about
At Del Canto, we also recommend you do the following:
- Establish contact with the other party’s lawyer as soon as possible and preferably from day one of the proceedings.
- Consider mediation if no violence is involved in the separation. This figure exists in Spain, and divorce courts prefer couples to reach mutual agreement.
- Calculate your annual expenses carefully to ensure your lawyer applies for the appropriate amount in alimony and child maintenance, if applicable. You should be able to back up these calculations with proof of forecast expenses.
- Think about the tax implications of a divorce.
In our experience, many couples believe that divorce litigation is not an option in Spain and, indeed, courts in the UK may make a better choice. However, as recent cases at our practice have proved, Spanish jurisdiction may be more beneficial if the correct strategy is devised and negotiated.
As always, it is more than worth your while obtaining legal advice from experts in Anglo and Spanish law to determine the strategy to suit you and your circumstances.