The Express Divorce process was introduced in Spain in 2005 and can be broken down to the following elements:
- Reasons for choosing Express Divorce Proceedings
- Benefits – Costs & Time
- Requirements for an Express Divorce
- Steps to an Express Divorce
- The ‘Convenio’ Agreement
- Other Aspects of an Express Divorce
Why apply for an Express Divorce?
As the name suggests, ‘Express Divorce’ is a fast-track lower-cost procedure available to end a marriage in Spain.
It is formally called ‘divorcio por mutuo acuerdo’ and requires that both spouses agree to the divorce and, importantly, to all of the terms of the divorce.
This means that there must be agreement regarding such matters as custody of the children and visitation rights, use and enjoyment of the family home and the distribution of matrimonial assets.
If this is the case and agreement has been reached with no areas of dispute remaining, then the couple may apply to the court for a divorce via the fast-track process.
Of course in the simplest situation where there are no children nor matrimonial assets an express divorce would be the obvious route to ending the marriage.
Express divorce is an option that may be used by anyone even – with certain provisos – where the marriage took place outside Spain.
Benefit 1 – Cost
The Express Divorce route is cheaper as it permits both spouses to use the same lawyer who will draw up the divorce agreement on the agreed terms of the spouses as well as collate all of the required information and submit the relevant documentation to the court.
A ‘procurador’ (officer of the court) is required legally to be present in all divorce cases in Spain which will affect the final fee also.
It should be borne in mind that the cost can rise due to additional complexity or where the lawyer needs to work with the couple to ensure that agreement is reached on any aspect of the divorce agreement.
You should always check if your lawyer is adhering to the Law Societies’ recommended tariffs. Many still do even though they are not required to.
If you wish, Advocate Abroad can put you in touch with a lawyer on our network of independent lawyers who are competitively priced and who abide by the Law Societies’ recommended pricing levels.
Alternatively, you can avail of an online service which offers a very competitive price to English-speaking clients.
Benefit 2 – Time
Another important benefit of the express divorce process is that it can be finalised quickly. In some cities where the courts have set-up a special fast-track family law system, an express divorce can be completed within a few weeks.
If no such special court system exists then the process may take-up to two or three months. However, this still compares very favourably with the contentious divorce process which will require a minimum of six months though will often last for more than a year.
Requirements for an Express Divorce
One of the biggest changes brought about by the new legislation was that it became unnecessary to allege grounds for the divorce.
Until then it was normal and necessary to have any (and who knows, perhaps even all) of the following alleged in the divorce courts of Spain: alcoholism, infidelity, cessation of matrimonial cohabitation and drug addiction.
But since the new legislation came into force, it has been unnecessary to allege grounds for a divorce – it is merely necessary that three months have passed since the marriage took place in order for a divorce to be sought by either or both of the spouses.
Of course, a cornerstone of the Express Divorce procedure is that there is an agreed understanding between the spouses both as to the willingness to end the marriage and the terms of the divorce. This takes the form of a written and signed agreement known in Spanish as a ‘Convenio’.
So what steps does a person need to take in Spain to end a marriage by way of express divorce?
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