Spanish family law children and separated couples

Divorce is inevitably an emotionally challenging time. It is often even more difficult if there are children in the marriage. If you are a British citizen, previously resident in Spain and wish to return to the United Kingdom when the divorce is finalised, you will need to understand Spanish family law and your rights as a parent. Giambrone & Partners’ international family law experts are available to help you.

Here we explain all the considerations that must be taken into account related to child custody in Spain following divorce. Also, we will explain your custodial rights both in Spain and if you live in the United Kingdom, and the provisions permitting a child to decide which parent they wish to live with.

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How family law in Spain manages the children that are involved

How legal custody of children is decided in Spain

The rights of non-custodial parents following a divorce, such as shared custody and joint custody

If you do not live in Spain, here we outline child custody rights

A child must reach a certain age for their views on where and with whom they are permitted to reside are considered.

How our experienced Spanish family lawyers can help you during divorce proceedings

Frequently asked questions

Divorcing and separating; child arrangements

Regardless of whether you are divorcing or separating, the decision related to the custody of children remains the same. If the child resides in Spain, the matter must be decided by a Spanish court. The parents can reach a joint agreement concerning the custody and residence of children. However, a judge will review any agreement and consider whether it is in the child’s best interests.

Any agreement made between the parents should include information such as visitation times, any flexibility permitted and emergency provisions. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, the decision will be put before a judge who will decide what is best for the child after hearing the views of each parent.

What factors are considered concerning child custody?

Before a decision is made, the Spanish courts will consider a range of factors, with the best interests of the child being the main consideration. Health, education and welfare, as well as their relationship with other relatives, such as grandparents, are all very important factors.

Spanish courts will also ensure that siblings are not split up, therefore one parent will receive custody of all children of the marriage. The ability of the parents to look after their children will also be considered. They will consider the lifestyle of the parent, as well as finances and overall capacity to ensure the children will be safe and well cared for. Judges also look into any psychological issues or addictions the parents may have, as well as accusations of domestic violence.

Giambrone & Partners can advise and guide you throughout the process. You can get in contact with us today.

What rights does the non-custodial parent have in Spain?

When one parent obtains legal custody of the children, the non-custodial parent, and will usually have visitation rights, assuming there are no factors related to that parent that would have a poor impact on the child. The non-custodial parent will usually have to pay towards the care of the child by means of a monthly payment to the other parent; these payments cease once the child finishes their education or reaches the age of 18 unless there are reasons, such as the need for care due to the child’s disability.

The non-custodial parent shares the parental responsibility relating to the child's education and health. They are generally allowed to participate in decisions relating the future of their children, and other major decisions. They have the right to be informed about emergencies occurring in the children's lives.

Spanish child custody rights when you reside in the UK

If the children have been born and raised in Spain, and the parent seeking legal custody lives in Spain, then the Spanish courts are highly likely to decide that the child remains in Spain. As previously mentioned, the best interests of the child will always be the overriding factor. Therefore, the parent residing in the United Kingdom will often be granted access for a set number of weeks, for example, in the summer holidays.

The Spanish courts will be keen to ensure that your children have an established routine, regardless of whether a parent lives in Spain or not and will also protect the interests of the non-custodial parent.

Giambrone & Partners family lawyers can assist in organising a schedule to fit in with your child's routine. We have a wide range of qualified Spanish law solicitors to help you navigate the landscape.

When can a child decide which parent they want to live with in Spain?

When a child reaches the age of 13 years in Spain, the courts will take their opinion and preferences into consideration. Any child under this age will be placed into the legal custody of the parent that the judge deems to be most well-suited if the separation is a contested divorce.

Once a child turns 13, a judge will hear their opinions to help them decide who the child would be better placed with. This does not necessarily mean that the judge will always agree with the child’s opinion, for example, if the preferred parent has serious problems such as addiction issues.

How Giambrone and Partners can help

Giambrone and Partners’ Spanish family lawyers have years of experience helping UK and Spanish individuals settle their cross-border family law disputes. Our lawyers will guide you through Spanish family law giving you complete peace of mind.

If you would like expert legal advice, or to book a consultation, please get in touch with us today.

Common Queries

What happens to the family home following a divorce?

In the absence of children or an agreement, the home will remain with the original owner. However, if a matrimonial property regime exists, the property will be split equally between the two.

What are the grounds for divorce in Spain?

There are no grounds for divorce in Spain as all divorce is no-fault, but the marriage must have lasted at least three months.

How is child support calculated in Spain?

Child maintenance is calculated as a living cost, excluding expenses such as presents and holidays. This maintenance is paid until the child is 18 or becomes financially independent.

Related content

Handling cross-border family disputes involving children

Family law – the options for resolving disputes involving children