Fundamental Factors in International Divorce

Nowadays in Spain it is ever more common that at least one person in a relationship is not Spanish or very possibly that neither are Spanish but are living as full-time residents here in Spain, having married abroad. As a result, when considering the difficult and complex situations that arise with separations and divorces, either between married couples or those in domestic partnerships it is necessary to bear in mind three fundamental factors:

  • which jurisdiction will be competent to hear the matter,
  • which state’s legislation will apply to the proceedings, and
  • with regard to the distribution of the matrimonial assets, what is the legal framework that underpins the ownership of those assets within the marriage.

Residency is Key

Regarding the competent jurisdiction, within the context of the European Union, residency is key and European Council Regulation 2201/2003, with respect to jurisdictional competence, recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions in matrimonial matters and parental responsibility, establishes that competence to hear divorce and similar proceedings lies with the State in which the spouses habitually reside, with some special individual rules for exceptional cases.

When there are children involved in the proceedings, the Spanish Courts will also have competence to hear the case, when the child has close ties to Spain, even where at the time that the proceedings are filed, the child is resident in a State, outside the European Union.

Spanish Civil Code

With regard to the applicable legislation to the proceedings, in Spain, Article 107 of the Spanish Civil Code establishes the following options in order of priority:

  1. the national law common to both spouses
  2. the national law of the country where the marriage was celebrated
  3. the law of the country in which the couple were both last resident, where one of the spouses is still resident there.


Finally, with regard to the financial rules applied to the distribution of the matrimonial assets, within the context of the European Union, Article 9.2 of the Spanish Civil Code as well as the Hague Convention of 1978, applicable to marriages celebrated after September 1978, establish that, in the first place, the rules that determine the distribution of assets shall be any such as the couple have expressly agreed, (pre- and post-nuptial agreements) and in their absence, those rules which are applied in the region that the couple habitually were resident in immediately following the marriage or, if this does not apply, the law of the place in which the marriage took place.

Regional Law

In Valencia, in the absence of an express agreement between the spouses, the financial rules that apply are known as ‘separación de bienes’ which means that the spouses keep their own individual assets and earnings.

In summary, the Spanish Courts will normally have competence to hear divorce and separation proceedings between anyone resident in Spain, regardless of the nationality of the spouses, applying the law of the State of which both spouses hold nationality, and if the spouses have different nationality, Spanish law will apply. Finally, with regard to the distribution of distribution of matrimonial assets, the laws of foreign countries may be applied, though the same must be proven before the Spanish Court.

Related Services

49 Lawyers Offering Divorce Services in Spain

Testimonials for our Divorce service
  • Eamonn Gomez
    Eamonn Gomez, Madrid

    Francisco was extremely helpful, he couldn't have done more.


    Sep 07, 2019
  • Tina Shiels
    Tina Shiels, Fuengirola

    Alvaro was very helpful and went above and beyond to try to help me in my situation as I needed it to happen as fast as possible.


    Even whilst he was on holiday he was in touch and made things happen. would definitely recommend!


    Sep 06, 2019
  • Navdeep Singh
    Navdeep Singh, Lisbon

    Very satisfied with the service provided by Simone


    Aug 07, 2019
  • Marion Brennan
    Marion Brennan, Alicante

    At every stage of our family case, Jose Antonio has been knowledgeable and thorough, very professional while remaining kind and supportive and ensured that we took the right steps for a positive outcome.


    I would highly recommend Jose Antonio for legal representation.


    Jun 29, 2019
  • Amir
    Amir, Lisbon

    Our lawyer Simone is a very nice person who gave us personal attention like a family.


    Start to finish she provided the best service. Very happy with the job done, thx a lot!


    May 31, 2019
  • Robert Cunningham
    Robert Cunningham, Mallorca

    Rosa was absolutely first class. She made a very difficult time in our lives a lot easier and for that I could not be more grateful. Thank you Rosa


    May 20, 2019
  • Keisha
    Keisha, Valencia

    Inmaculada was professional and also demonstrated compassion and understanding during this difficult period in my life.


    Apr 03, 2019
  • Wayne
    Wayne, Valencia

    Francisca was very informative and helpful. She handled my divorce professionally and made it easy for me throughout the process.


    Highly recommend and reasonable fees. Thank you, Francisca!


    Mar 16, 2019
  • Wayne Cherry
    Wayne Cherry, London, England

    Francisca was very informative and attentive to all of my inquiries and concerns. I would definitely be going back to her if needing her services again and would recommend her brilliant services.


    Mar 09, 2019
  • Candy
    Candy, Cadiz

    Francisco was very responsive, supportive and understanding.


    Unfortunately, I had to use another lawyer who has helped me in another case.


    Feb 11, 2019
  • Colin Wilson
    Colin Wilson, Australia

    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 appreciated. 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.


    Oct 30, 2018
  • Julie Smith
    Julie Smith, Torrellano

    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 responded 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.


    Apr 20, 2018
  • Robert Davies
    Robert Davies, Mallorca

    Very supportive and clear on producing a suitable divorce settlement.


    Efficient, understanding and professional.


    Mar 12, 2018
  • D slocombe
    D slocombe, Spain

    Jose is very friendly and understanding.


    I am very satisfied and I would you use the same lawyer again in the future.


    May 19, 2017
  • Louise Kirby
    Louise Kirby, Alicante

    Jose Antonio is a very dedicated lawyer. He ensures he has a deep understanding of the case and provides excellent advise on a range of issues.


    He has often replied to queries out of hours and works hard to provide the best outcome for his clients.


    His service is outstanding and I would highly recommend him.


    Feb 15, 2017
  • Stanley Jones
    Stanley Jones, Llano del Camello

    I am very satisfied with Oliver, he was very helpful and always happy to assist.


    I would definitely use the same lawyer again in the future.


    Jan 17, 2017
  • Malcolm John Lewis
    Malcolm John Lewis, Germany

    Totally professional and helpful in every way, helped to solve problems that arose and so would recommend to anyone.


    Dec 15, 2016
  • Raquel Flores Camua
    Raquel Flores Camua, Abbotsford

    Rossana was excellent in all these qualities – responsiveness, understanding, value for money, ability to explain and provide appropriate legal solutions, approachability and professionalism.


    Couldn’t ask for more, extremely satisfied with her service and sincere attention to my interests.


    Dec 12, 2016
  • Centa P Cronin
    Centa P Cronin, Fuerteventura

    Beatriz was very friendly…easy to engage with….efficient service.


    She couldn’t have done more.


    Nov 26, 2016
  • CW
    CW, Ibiza

    Very knowledgeable and supportive from the outset.


    Made to feel very comfortable and nothing was too much trouble. Very highly recommended.


    Nov 22, 2016
  • Nick C
    Nick C, London

    I have to say he was excellent. Perfect English.I was dreading it and he appreciated my position and showed a lot of empathy.


    Fernando was very responsive with very quick turnaround. Explained all areas of the law in an understandable and uncomplicated way. Professional and cost effective.


    I deal with a lot with lawyers through my business and he is one of the best ones I have come across.


    Nov 04, 2016
  • Michael Anthony
    Michael Anthony, Malaysia

    I found Francisco to be very understanding of my needs and was able to discuss frankly with him on sensitive and personal matters.


    I found Francisco to be extremely professional, helpful, knowledgeable and importantly very approachable. I would certainly recommend him to anyone who needed such services and I would certainly use him and his law firm again if the need arose.


    Aug 19, 2016
  • Kate Godbehere
    Kate Godbehere, Granada

    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.


    Feb 25, 2016
  • Thomas Hills
    Thomas Hills, Spain

    Legally I believe everything was covered in what I think was a complicated situation, so I am satisfied that I was well represented.


    No problems were encountered with language, as the lawyer had perfect English. Meetings were scheduled and kept, which is good for Spain !

    Overall I am very satisfied with the service.


    Mar 13, 2015
  • Brett Goldsmith
    Brett Goldsmith, Canada

    He helped me not to put certain points in my divorce, that I later may have regretted. Often in haste a person will ask for or give certain concessions that later will be inappropriate.


    I was fortunately stopped from doing this by my lawyer Pedro.


    Pedro has a professional, helpful and friendly approach.


    Sep 21, 2014
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