Spanish Court Taxes and Family Law Proceedings

divorce spain costs

Recent changes have been made by the Spanish government regarding the application of the highly contentious Court taxes to family law proceedings. What are the changes and what costs do litigants now face?

The new taxes were originally brought in by the Judicial Taxes Act 2010 (as modified by Royal Decree 3/2013) whereby it became necessary for the first time for anyone initiating Court proceedings in Spain to pay a tax. The tax had a fixed and variable element, with the fixed being limited between 200€ and 1200€ for individuals with the variable set at 0.5% of the value of the matter under dispute up to 1 Million Euros and 0.25% thereafter.


Reaction to the Tax

The new taxes were roundly condemned by the legal establishment as effectively denying justice to the poor. The Government defended the tax saying that it would affect only 10% of all litigants since all criminal cases (accounting for 72% of all cases before the courts) were exempt as were those cases related to employment law taken by employees. In addition anyone who was eligible for free legal aid would also be exempt.

Furthermore, according to statistics released by the Judicial Authority, 75% of all cases appealed, failed. When appeals to the Supreme Court were included, this number rose to 90%. It was accordingly unacceptable for the State to fund so many cases that had little prospect of succeeding. In any case, the Government Minister responsible suggested, if the case was successful, the litigant would have any costs paid by the other party.

Anyone entitled to free legal aid (meaning anyone earning less than 14.000€ gross income per year) do not have to pay the taxes. This right is also extended to proceedings (in certain circumstances) seeking payment of unpaid bills amounting to less than 2.000€. Also exempt are those who have been subject to acts of terrorism or domestic violence from pursuing proceedings related to this classification.


Family Law Proceedings

The latest reforms to the court taxes were introduced earlier this year by Royal Decree 3/2013 – though these were subsequently changed once again only two months later i.e. the reforms were reformed! The variable part of the tax was reduced by 80% so now it is 0.1% for individuals and there is no limit to the amount that this percentage applies to. The maximum amount that is payable in the variable portion is reduced from 10.000€ to 2.000€. The fixed portion of the tax for Family Law proceedings in Spain are as follows:

  • Mutually agreed divorce: No tax is levied.
  • Contentious Divorce: 150€
  • Proceedings related to the guardianship of children or to paternity tests: No tax is levied
  • Proceedings seeking to enforce orders for child maintenance: No tax is levied.

In effect the variable part of the tax relating to contentious divorces is set at 18€ since, for most purposes, the value of the matter under dispute is considered to be 18.000€. Should either party not agree with the decision of the court, it will cost 800€ in Court taxes for the matter to be appealed to the Regional High Court and an additional 1.200€ should the matter arrive at the Supreme Court.


Family Law Client Testimonials

Client reviews of our family law services, as uploaded by clients directly to the Wufoo survey platform:

  • Default Avatar75
    Colin Wilson, Australia
    Tuesday, October 30, 2018
    Overall it was great. Rosa always answered all questions asked and provided clear, concise and well explained answers.

    When there was a delay in responding she did offer an apology which was appre...ciated. Rosa always instilled a sense of confidence that she knew exactly what was going on, what I was asking, and what the applicable law was.

    When not a Spanish local and dealing with her remotely, this provided great comfort in a sensitive matter.
  • Default Avatar75
    Mohamed kheder, Dublin, Ireland
    Monday, September 24, 2018
    Every thing was great ... Rosa was really helpful and understanding. And I see the value for money was good enough.. of course I would recommend it to any of my friends.

    And I would like to have th...e chance to thank Rosa and the whole company for everything.
  • Default Avatar75
    Wendy Dickson, Marbella
    Tuesday, June 19, 2018
    It was all done very quick. Very good value for money. How easy it all was to communicate via email.
  • Default Avatar75
    Liezl Pulido, Philippines
    Monday, April 23, 2018
    Rosa 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.
  • Default Avatar75
    Julie Smith, Torrellano
    Friday, April 20, 2018
    I 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.
  • Default Avatar75
    David Pratt, Alhaurin del Grande
    Friday, April 13, 2018
    Alvaro gives me confidence that he understands the issue and gives me practical solutions. He works rapidly and efficiently. I would strongly recommend his services.
  • Default Avatar75
    John Burchell, Arroyo De la Miel
    Tuesday, March 20, 2018
    Alvaro was very professional, helpful and friendly. Understood things quickly. Explained things well in English. Very easy to contact at any time.
  • Default Avatar75
    Robert Davies, Mallorca
    Monday, March 12, 2018
    Very supportive and clear on producing a suitable divorce settlement. Efficient, understanding and professional.
  • Default Avatar75
    Adam Clark, Tenerife
    Friday, March 09, 2018
    Oliver 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.
  • Default Avatar75
    Holly, Lanzarote
    Friday, February 23, 2018
    The divorce process could have been explained more clearly and accurately so that a more realistic time for completion can be attained.
  • Default Avatar75
    Tamara Malcolm, Mallorca
    Tuesday, February 20, 2018
    Rosa was and is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Her advice was excellent and i will definitely be using her expertise again in the future.
  • Default Avatar75
    Eric Van Der Straeten, Belgium
    Friday, November 17, 2017
    Mr. 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.
  • Default Avatar75
    S Smith, Estepona
    Tuesday, September 12, 2017
    Being 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.
  • Default Avatar75
    Aaron L, Oregon
    Wednesday, August 02, 2017
    Very satisfied with the service provided. Helen was knowledgeable, helpful and responsive to communication. Will definitely use again.
  • Default Avatar75
    Maya M, Canada
    Monday, July 31, 2017
    My 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.
  • Default Avatar75
    N. Gardiner, Mijas
    Friday, June 16, 2017
    Rosa was value for money, really easy to deal and very efficient. Highly recommend.
  • Default Avatar75
    D slocombe, Spain
    Friday, May 19, 2017
    Jose is very friendly and understanding. I am very satisfied and I would you use the same lawyer again in the future.
  • Default Avatar75
    KSC, Ireland
    Tuesday, October 18, 2016
    She was very helpful, always happy to assist. I was very satisfied with the service.
  • Default Avatar75
    Elena, Australia
    Tuesday, June 14, 2016
    Rosa was straightforward, friendly, polite and cheap. I was very satisfied and I definitely would use the same lawyer again in the future.
  • Default Avatar75
    Kate Godbehere, Granada
    Thursday, February 25, 2016
    From 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.
  • Default Avatar75
    Peter Gural, La Linea
    Thursday, October 08, 2015
    What 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.
  • Default Avatar75
    Elena Todd, Almoradi
    Friday, July 18, 2014
    Our 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

    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.
  • Default Avatar75
    Christine B., Spain
    Thursday, July 03, 2014
    Very 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 2.172.149 cases were registered during the first quarter of 2013. This amounts to a 5.4% fall in the number of cases compared to the same period in 2012.

In particular the division of the court dealing with Civil cases has been affected with an overall reduction of more than 13%, including a fall of more than 20% in the number of cases related to proceedings for unpaid bills. Also dramatically affected has been the division of the Court that deals with appeals against administrative decisions taken against the authorities, with  a drop of over 21% in the number of cases compared to same period last year.

While is has been suggested that this may be a result of the general slow-down in the economy, many believe that the taxes that have been introduced are having an impact. With more than 19 million Euros saved from this budget already in 2013 it is unlikely that the government are going to back down from it’s stated position that it is each individuals responsibility to at least part-fund legal proceedings in which they are the biggest beneficiaries.


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