Obtaining a divorce in Spain for couples with different nationalities

In recent years, divorce rates have increased across the globe. In 2019, Spain had the fourth-highest divorce rate in the world. If a foreign national marries a Spanish citizen and subsequently wishes to divorce they must understand and establish their rights under Spanish law.

We will explain the requirements needed to begin divorce proceedings in Spain. We will also highlight the various benefits associated with seeking international legal help.

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Explore the requirements for a Spanish divorce

If you live in a different country from your estranged spouse - how you can apply for divorce, is explained here

If a divorce is finalised in Spain, it does not necessarily mean the Spanish spouse has authority

If you live in Spain and wish to remain - your rights following the divorce

How legal aid can help your case

Discover how our family lawyers can help you

We answer your frequently asked questions

What requirements do you need to meet to get divorced in Spain?

There are no grounds to be met for Spanish divorce as all divorces are on a "No-fault" basis, and allow couples to legally separate without providing a reason, as long as both spouses consent to the divorce proceedings. Your marriage must have also lasted at least three months. In a contested divorce, both parties must live in Spain or accept the Spanish jurisdiction.

An uncontested divorce can be obtained through the Spanish courts if you or your spouse live in Spain, one or both of you is a Spanish national, or at least one of you still lives there. If you no longer live in Spain at the time of your divorce, but your spouse does, they must be the one to apply for divorce proceedings. You can, however, get divorced under the laws of your own country if you were born there or have appropriate connections.

If the visa that allows you to stay in Spain depends on marriage, you must apply to the Spanish Administration when your divorce is finalised and state the reasons why you believe should be allowed to stay. These reasons could include the fact you have visitation rights to your children, you have won full or joint custody, or you were a victim of domestic abuse. If you need help building your case, you can speak to one of our professional lawyers today.

Can divorce be filed in two countries?

It is possible to file for divorce if you both live in separate countries. If you live in the United Kingdom, but your spouse lives in Spain, you can go through the English courts. However, if the divorce is contested and you live in the UK, your spouse must be the one to apply for a divorce petition.

The laws on filing for divorce in different countries differ from country to country, so it is important to seek legal advice beforehand.

Is there bias towards Spanish spouse when divorcing in Spain?

If you obtain a divorce in Spain and your spouse is Spanish and you are not, it does not automatically mean that your spouse will have more rights.

If you have children, Spanish law dictates that both parents have the right to share parental responsibility and participate in their major life decisions, such as their home and education. However, in most cases, the mother is awarded custody. If the father is based in the United Kingdom and the children have never lived there, a judge is unlikely to remove the child or children from their Spanish home without a very compelling reason that is in the children’s best interests, such as the ill health of the parent domiciled in Spain.

There are also various marriage regimes in place to help the spouses protect their rights and properties in the event of a divorce. If you do not choose a regime, your property will be automatically split during the divorce process. There are three regimes to choose from: the economic community of property regime (régimen económico de gananciales), the separation of property regime (régimen de separación de bienes), and the participation regime (régimen de participación). You find out more in our previous guide here.

If you would like to find out more about your rights as a British national divorcing in Spain, get in contact with us today to see how we can assist you.

Can you stay in Spain after a divorce?

If you are not a resident of an EU member state, the answer is generally no. Once your marriage is over, you have essentially lost your ties to Spain. However, there are factors that you can put forward to the Administration to allow you remain in the country.

You must inform the Administration of your divorce as soon as possible, before putting forward your wishes and reasons to remain resident in Spain. If your marriage lasted at least three years, and you cohabitated for at least one of those years, you may be able to remain living in Spain. If you have been granted custody of your children, or if you have visitation rights, you may also be permitted to remain. There are exceptional circumstances which may be considered to allow you to remain in Spain, such as if you were a victim of domestic violence or trafficking during your marriage.

How can a family lawyer qualified in Spain help me?

Our Spanish family lawyers (Abogados) can explain (in English) and help you through your divorce in Spain, allowing you to be assured that your case is in capable hands. If your divorce is contested, we can assist you in arguing your position and collecting relevant evidence to help you get the best possible result. Our lawyers can also help you with the Spanish Administration to state your claim if your visa relied on your marriage.

How Giambrone and Partners can help

We have experienced international solicitors here at Giambrone and Partners, with vast knowledge of Spanish law, family law and the rules of divorce. We always aim to settle disputes in family law cases through alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, but we will accompany you to English or Spanish court if needed.

If you would like to discuss your case further, please get in contact with us today for a consultation.

Common Queries

How much does it cost to get divorced in Spain?

The eventual costs involved in a divorce can differ widely depending on whether the divorce is contested and how long it takes to resolve matters.

How long is the procedure to divorce in Spain?

This depends on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Divorces can take between four to six months, depending on whether children are involved, or other factors that may slow down the process of reaching an agreement

Can I get divorced in England if I married in Spain?

If you live in the United Kingdom, or have connections there, you may be able to divorce through the English & Wales courts

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