UK & Spanish Divorce Law
What are the practical implications of succeeding in having a divorce petition heard in one jurisdiction rather than another?
Well, of course this rather depends on which jurisdictions we are comparing. Here we take a very brief look some major variations on how the law operates with regard to divorce proceedings in the UK and Spain.
Family Law Client Testimonials
Client reviews of our family law services, as uploaded by clients directly to the Wufoo survey platform:
- Wendy Dickson, MarbellaTuesday, June 19, 2018It was all done very quick. Very good value for money. How easy it all was to communicate via email.
- Liezl Pulido, PhilippinesMonday, April 23, 2018Rosa never stopped working very hard, she went way above what she needed to do...she never gave up on me and always did more than I thought anyone would.
I am so blessed I got Rosa to help me I co...uldn't have gotten a better lawyer she's the best.
Thank you Rosa from the bottom of my heart you are a wonderful person, I am so grateful to you.
- Julie Smith, TorrellanoFriday, April 20, 2018I can't compliment my solicitor enough.
From our initial meeting right through to my ultimate divorce (with no unpleasant surprises the entire duration of the entire process), he immediately respo...nded to my many enquiries, always had mine and my daughter's best interests at the forefront of any considerations and was well worth every penny of his extremely reasonable fee.
Excellent value for money, totally approachable and very professional and understanding. I highly recommend him and will continue to retain his services for other matters in the future.
- David Pratt, Alhaurin del GrandeFriday, April 13, 2018Alvaro gives me confidence that he understands the issue and gives me practical solutions. He works rapidly and efficiently. I would strongly recommend his services.
- John Burchell, Arroyo De la MielTuesday, March 20, 2018Alvaro was very professional, helpful and friendly. Understood things quickly. Explained things well in English. Very easy to contact at any time.
- Robert Davies, MallorcaMonday, March 12, 2018Very supportive and clear on producing a suitable divorce settlement. Efficient, understanding and professional.
- Adam Clark, TenerifeFriday, March 09, 2018Oliver was very professional. He explained things very clearly and honestly at all times and in the end we got the best result possible in my particular case.
Many thanks to him for his high level ...of service.
- Holly, LanzaroteFriday, February 23, 2018The divorce process could have been explained more clearly and accurately so that a more realistic time for completion can be attained.
- Tamara Malcolm, MallorcaTuesday, February 20, 2018Rosa was and is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Her advice was excellent and i will definitely be using her expertise again in the future.
- Eric Van Der Straeten, BelgiumFriday, November 17, 2017Mr. Sempere Gelardo was a pleasure to work with. This lawyer has an understanding of difficult matters that surpasses most of his colleagues.
He replied to my demand the next day and in fluent Engl...ish assisted me in the case I presented to him.
His professionalism, together with a lot of empathy, gave me a feeling of security. The results were of the same high standard.
I can only thank him and would recommend him to anybody who is in need of legal assistance in the region of Alicante.
- S Smith, EsteponaTuesday, September 12, 2017Being English in Spain and fighting a child custody and divorce case here is extremely difficult.
I originally had an only Spanish speaking lawyer and after 2 years of everything taking ages inclu...ding just responses from my lawyer plus with the language barrier I decided to make the difficult decision to change my lawyer to Alvaro.
Immediately and quickly Alvaro got an understanding of the case and was able to advise me. I was now able to understand myself what was going on and he worked to a new pace that had previously been lacking and that was needed to win the case.
Communication and response from Alvaro was always immediate and his recommendations were always correct. He is very professional and approachable person, and a very good lawyer. With his help and guidance I won the case and without any hesitation I would highly recommend Alvaro as a lawyer to anyone.
- Aaron L, OregonWednesday, August 02, 2017Very satisfied with the service provided. Helen was knowledgeable, helpful and responsive to communication. Will definitely use again.
- Maya M, CanadaMonday, July 31, 2017My overall experience with Rosa was a positive one.
Value for the money? Yes.
In my opinion, Rosa is a very knowledgeable and professional lawyer, who is able to not only understand the situat...ion at hand, but also suggest different approaches and customized solutions for unique, non-standard situations, which was the case with me.
And for that I am really happy and grateful to have worked with Rosa, and wish her the very best in the future.
- N. Gardiner, MijasFriday, June 16, 2017Rosa was value for money, really easy to deal and very efficient. Highly recommend.
- D slocombe, SpainFriday, May 19, 2017Jose is very friendly and understanding. I am very satisfied and I would you use the same lawyer again in the future.
- KSC, IrelandTuesday, October 18, 2016She was very helpful, always happy to assist. I was very satisfied with the service.
- Elena, AustraliaTuesday, June 14, 2016Rosa was straightforward, friendly, polite and cheap. I was very satisfied and I definitely would use the same lawyer again in the future.
- Kate Godbehere, GranadaThursday, February 25, 2016From the outset, Rosa was extremely professional, approachable, efficient and competent. Her level of English is extraordinary, something very much appreciated as it made life easier for me during an ...inherently difficult time.
Her correspondence was always relevant, detailed, simply and clearly explained and expressed. Rosa was kindly, matter of fact, calm, patient and always reassuring.
Her pro-active, intelligent, thoughtful and knowledgeable advice helped very much during a particularly delicate and worrying stage of the process.
- Peter Gural, La LineaThursday, October 08, 2015What I liked about this service: Value for money.
The level of professionalism and excellence in service was not compromised in the reasonably low fee charged for the service.
All details were... explained in a simple format that an ordinary citizen could understand, sparing the bureaucratic procedure that only lawyers can understand.
- Elena Todd, AlmoradiFriday, July 18, 2014Our lawyer was very understanding of our situation, and took a lot of time to strategise for the best possible outcome.
Her passionate performance in court exhibited a heartfelt commitment to our ...case.
Her fees were very reasonable and she was willing to consider payment terms at difficult times.
I strongly recommend her and will use her again in the future.
- Christine B., SpainThursday, July 03, 2014Very fast and comprehensive responses to all my queries.
Always available via email and telephone.
Very reasonable fees.Extremely helpful and thorough. Polite, perfect English. Absolutely prof...essional.
In Spain there are two possible ‘types’ of marriage. Firstly are those marriages referred to as ‘sociedad de gananciales’ which most equates to what we would consider typical in Anglo-Saxon marriage arrangements.
Secondly there are ‘separación de bienes’ which signifies an intention on the part of the spouses to maintain a separation in the ownership of assets throughout the marriage.
The effect of the above is that in a ‘sociedad de gananciales’ matrimonial arrangement, all goods, assets and benefits (except so-called ‘private’ goods) derived during the marriage, regardless by which spouse, are considered to belong to both spouses equally and which are, upon a divorce, divided equally.
Examples of such ‘goods, assets and benefits’ would be a person’s salary or benefits of a business owned by one of the spouses.
Conversely where the regime is considered to be ‘separación de bienes’ then any assets accumulated during the marriage are considered to belong to one or other of the spouses in the proportion in which their funds contributed to the purchase.
It may be added that domestic labour in the home is considered quantifiable under this arrangement and can therefore be used to measure contribution towards marital assets.
Even within the ‘sociedad de gananciales’ regime certain assets are considered ‘private’ and would not be considered as divisible between the spouses upon a divorce.
An example would be an inheritance left to one of the spouses specifically. Also, any assets obtained before the marriage remain distinct from the matrimonial ‘pot’ and never form part of the matrimonial assets.
So, when comparing the UK system with the ‘sociedad de gananciales’ it would appear that the Spanish system would have a narrower interpretation of what constitutes ‘marital assets’ as it allows for ‘private assets’
The system of ‘separación de bienes’ provides an even narrower interpretation by assigning ownership of assets to one spouse or the other depending on contribution, though there is the proviso that the contribution of a spouse who works in the home can consider this a contribution to be compensated for.
Spousal Maintenance Payments
The courts in England & Wales are world renowned as being more generous to the spouse with fewer assets.
The reason is that maintenance payments there tend to be open-ended with the objective being to put the couple in the place they would be if there had been no dissolution of the marriage whereas in Spain the objective is to return the spouses to the position they were in before the marriage took place.
This can often mean that in England & Wales the spouse with less assets or income can obtain 50% or more of the wealth of the richer of the two as well as a percentage of all future income. In Scotland maintenance payments are normally restricted to three years from the time of the divorce.
When a divorce process is initiated one important aspect can often be the obtaining of a precise inventory of the assets owned by the other spouse – for obvious reasons.
It may be that this spouse would resent the obligation to hand-over such information and adopts delaying tactics or simply offers incorrect or incomplete information.
In England and Wales there is a “full and frank” financial disclosure requirement that unless respected by each party can result in prosecution for perjury. In Spain there would appear to be less stringent enforcement of the requirement to effect a full financial disclosure of assets and this can obviously impact strongly on the award of any compensatory payments.
Choice of Laws
It should be noted that according to Art. 107 of the Spanish Civil Code, where both spouses have a common nationality then this should be the law applied to the proceedings.
So an English couple could apply for a divorce in Spain and, while being heard by a Spanish court, have English law applied. Alternatively, they could decide to simply apply Spanish law where both parties agree.
Therefore, while the English couple both live in Spain, it remains an option to choose to have English family law applied to their proceedings. It should be noted that this can result in an increase of costs due to the need to provide the court with briefs on English law fully translated etc.
While only offering an overview the previous paragraphs serve to illustrate that the location chosen to file divorce proceedings can have a significant effect on certain aspects of the divorce settlement.
Following the European Regulation on the matter, it is potentially open to a spouse who is domiciled in the UK to file a divorce petition if they return there for a period of six months even though they had married in Spain and lived a number of years there.
It may certainly be in their financial interest to do so where they own less assets or have a substantially lower income than their spouse. More information on this topic is available at International Divorce.