Getting a divorce in
Spain needn’t be difficult so long as both parties can agree on the
all-important matters of child custody and the division of assets. The conditions
under which a non-Spanish national can obtain a divorce in Spain are that
either they or their spouse is resident in Spain; their spouse is a Spanish
national; or the children live in Spain.
Spouses may divorce
by mutual agreement when they have been married for at least three full
months. It is not necessary for the couple to have been legally separated
for any period of time before filing for divorce. In certain cases a party
may petition for a divorce without waiting for the three-month period.
Where younger children
are concerned, custody is usually awarded to the mother. However, joint
custody is now becoming a more common outcome of divorce proceedings in Spain. Spanish
courts generally award alimony only where one of the spouses is clearly disadvantaged
economically as a result of the divorce.
Types of divorce in Spain
Uncontested divorce: The application for divorce by mutual
consent may be made before the “Letrado de la Administración de Justice”
(judicial secretary), notary public or the Court of First Instance. As
part of the application the parties must present a contractual agreement
addressing the following:
custody arrangements for any children, including visitation rights of
the non-custodial parent.
allowance or alimony, if any, to be paid by one spouse to other.
Use of the family
The manner, if any,
in which the spouses continue to contribute to family expenses.
An uncontested divorce
can be concluded quite quickly. However, in cases where one of the spouses
does not want to divorce or if both want to but they do not agree on the
outcome, the divorce will be contentious.
Contested divorce: In this case the divorce petition
is filed by only one of the spouses. It may require negotiation between lawyers
and call on third party evidence. A contested divorce can take anywhere from a few months to more than
a year to complete. Both parties will have to attend a Court hearing.
Whichever way the
spouses choose to seek a divorce (judicial or notary), they must be assisted by
a practicing lawyer. And, in the case of legal proceedings, they will have to
be represented by an attorney.
In addition to
divorce, Spanish law also acknowledges a separation procedure. Under a
separation judgement the marriage is not definitively dissolved. This means
that the spouses can live together again in a marriage at any time. In a separation, all subsequent
matters, such as childcare and use of the family dwelling must be presented. If
no such agreement is presented, the court will independently determine the
measures it deems appropriate.
Please note these are
only general guidelines and not definitive statements of the law. All questions
about the law’s applications to individual cases should be directed to a
A little-known fact
among expats living in Spain is that if you are a full-time resident in the
country you are entitled to vote in local and European elections. An even
lesser known fact is that you can actually stand as a candidate in local
elections and even run for mayor. All EU citizens have “the right to vote
and stand as a candidate in municipal and European Parliament elections
regardless of whether they are a national of the EU country in which they
reside,” the European Commission confirms on its website.
However, only around
54 percent of EU citizens are aware of this provision, according to a 2016
If you want to
participate in local politics in Spain, the first thing you need to do is to
get registered on the municipal census (empadronamiento) at the local
ayuntamiento or town hall. This will allow you to register on the Spanish
electoral lists and vote in municipal and European elections.
Voting in Spain
You can vote and
stand as candidates in the municipal elections under the following
That you be a
national of a Member State of the European Union
That you be
registered on the municipal census in Spain and domiciled in the municipality
where you want to vote.
That you be at least
18 years old
You will need to provide
the town hall with a written declaration stating your nationality, address in
your home country and your right to vote there. Except in special cases, in order to
vote, you must register before the end of the year preceding the poll.
And that’s it!
It’s worth mentioning
that registering to vote in Spain doesn’t mean having to give up your right to
vote in your country of origin. Some Member States allow you to cast your vote
overseas, whereas others, like Ireland, require that you return home to vote in
Standing for election
According to an EU
website “Nationals of another EU country must be resident in the EU country
where they wish to stand as a candidate and comply with the same conditions as
set out for nationals,” However, the website adds “No person may stand as a
candidate in more than one EU Member State at the same election.”
Spain reported the
highest number of non-national candidates standing in municipal elections:
1,913 in polls before 2018. And unlike many other EU member states, in Spain,
nationals from other EU countries can even run for higher offices such as
The requirements for
standing as a candidate are the exact same as those required to vote, on top of
which, of course you will need to register your candidacy with the relevant
An exchange of vows
between a loving couple, whether in a civil or religious ceremony, always makes
for an unforgettable occasion. What the guests assembled on the day don’t see
is the huge amount of planning that goes into it. While planning and
preparation is a part of every wedding day, it’s especially true for expats who
want to get married in Spain, due to the need to provide certain documents from
your country of origin, on top of the usual administrative procedures that need
to be completed with the local authorities before the big day.
To help make sense of
it all, Sonneil has compiled this guide to getting married in Spain as expats.
Be aware, first of
all, that one of the two future spouses must be resident in Spain and be
registered with the municipality closest to the couple’s place of residence,
and both must be at least 18 years old. In the case of marriage between an EU
citizen and a citizen from outside the EU, a special check is made before
marriage is genuine and not being used to obtain a residence permit.
Same-sex marriage has
been allowed in Spain since 2005. Same-sex couples enjoy the same marital,
legal, inheritance and adoption rights as heterosexual couples.
The first step is to
contact the closest Registro Civil (Civil Registry) to your place of residence
in Spain. They’ll provide you with the required document (marriage licence) to
obtain a wedding date. To secure this, you will need to present:
Your NIE, your passport or identity card as well as photocopies
Your birth certificate. Be aware that non-EU nationals must have this document legalised by their consulate and their foreign ministry.
A certificate of empadronamiento stating your place of residence during the last two years or since you entered Spain (you can obtain it from the nearest municipality). At least one of the two fiancés must have resided in Spain in the previous 2 years
A sworn declaration of civil status
In the case of a divorcee, copies of the marriage and divorce documents
In the case of a widow, a copy of the marriage and death certificate
A civil marriage application form, completed and signed
These documents must
be apostilled in your country of origin and translated into Spanish by a
The marriage licence
is only valid for six months, meaning you must submit it to the Junta Municipal
(city council) within this time.
If you want a church
wedding, contact the local parish at least 3 months in advance. Accompanying
your marriage licence, you will also need to provide baptismal certificates
issued at least six months before the date of the wedding.
As a general rule,
marriage at the district court or the municipality is free. But if you prefer
to get married in a church, a donation of around 300 euros is customary. Church
marriages do not require legal procedures, but you will still need a
certificate of baptism issued at least six months before the wedding.
Once you have
celebrated your marriage, you are required to register it with the registry
office which will give you a family record book called Libro de Familia.
With that, all that
remains is to live happily ever after.
There is a reason
that some 70,000 British pensioners have chosen to retire in Spain. There are the amazing golf courses, complemented by its food and climate,
which have been recognised by the World Health Organisation as the best in the world
in terms of offering a healthy lifestyle. Not to mention that the cost of
living in Spain is around 30-40 percent lower than in the UK, meaning that your
monthly pension payments go significantly further in Spain than in the UK.
Besides all of this,
there’s the fact that common membership of the EU made it almost as easy to
retire in Spain as to retire in the UK. Obviously that’s all going to change
with the UK set to depart from the bloc; however, the Spanish government has
been eager to address the concerns of the British expat community in Spain. To
this end Madrid announced in March that Britons living in Spain will be able to
apply for a “foreigner identity card” before 31 December 2020 to
prove their legal residency status. Once this is obtained, expats should find
their access to services like healthcare and social security largely unchanged
regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU with or without an agreement.
notwithstanding, what are the administrative steps to be taken to settle down
to retire in Spain?
First you need a
residence permit, to get this you need to register at your local Oficina de
Extranjeros who will then issue you with the permit. Once you have this you can
register on your local town hall’s census (padrón), which brings a variety of
benefits including the right to vote and free or discounted access to services
such as sports centres and libraries.
Retirees living in
Spain who are in receipt of a UK State Pension can choose to have their monthly
payments paid into either UK or Spanish bank account. For the second option,
you’ll need the international bank account number (IBAN) and bank
identification code (BIC) numbers for your Spanish account.
If you have a private
or workplace pension plan in place it is advisable to talk to a financial
advisor before leaving the UK. They will look at the various pension funds and
investments available to you as well as tax efficient options for structuring
your assets and funds.
To retire on a modest
salary in Spain, you might plan to spend around €17,000 a year, but to retire
comfortably it would be good to have around €25,000. If you’re willing to
budget and live cheaply, as little as €15,000 yearly will do.
Emergency cover in
Spain is available to anyone, whether you are an EU or non-EU citizen. To
qualify, if you live in Spain and receive a UK state pension or long-term
incapacity benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need an
S1 form, which must be obtained in the UK and certifies that you are of
retirement age and have paid all the necessary social security taxes in the UK.
You will then be entitled to the same benefits as a Spanish national.
you just moved in your apartment and you find the electricity shut down, you
should know that you will have to contact an
electricity provider and sign a new contract.
important that you do it as soon as possible, since subscribing to an
electricity provider usually takes between 5 and 9 business days, so it is
important that you do it as soon as possible if you want to have electricity in
your home, whether it is for light or gas.
How to subscribe to an energy provider in your new home?
everything to go correctly, you must contact the provider assigned to you according
to your zone and request for a new contract. In this first step, you’ll have to
give the contracted provider all the information they need as well as the
contracted power you will need is very important, since if you subscribe to a one
that does not fit your needs you will have future problems, such as the common
To know what contracted power you will need for your home, we advise you to use a gas and light comparator that will help you know which light company to hire and which is the best electric company in the market Knowing the best electric company to subscribe to is important, as it will facilitate the management of supplies and save energy.
Another important aspect is the requirements needed to register to that new provider. To register the light with Endesa, Iberdrola or another company, you will need to provide a series of documents, as well as know the subscription price. For example, the documents you will need to subscribe are the following:
Name, surname and
national identity document, whether National Document of Identity, or passport.
Exact postal address of the home where the subscription will apply.
CUPS Code (JE SAIS PAS CE QUE CEST) that
will be provided by the company itself if it is the first time you request that
Certificate or the
Electrical Bulletin that states that the electrical installation is in good
The current account number (IBAN) for
you provide the documents, most companies spend between 5 and 9 days to craft the contract. When registering, the user
must pay fees divided into rights of access, engagement and extension, and are
usually linked to the provider of electricity chosen.
this, we advise you to contact the company in question and ask the conditions
of signing a new contract.
Create a sustainable and efficient home
create a sustainable home, it is not only necessary to take into account
electrical supplies, you should also consider consumption habits. The routines
that are followed at home and the type of installation will be key to creating
an efficient house.
aspects, such as good thermal insulation, the installation of LED bulbs or
appliances with an A +++ efficiency label will be the key to energy savings. If
you want more advice, Fotocasa gives
them to you in your last article.
Apart from driving on
the other side of the road, there are a number of significant differences with
the driving experience in Spain, starting with the whole process of getting
your licence. So in this article Sonneil will explain how to go about getting
your driving licence from the point of view of a new driver who is starting
In order to obtain a
driving licence in Spain you must be at least 17 years and 9 months, but you
can’t actually get behind the wheel of a car until you are 18 years and one day
old. Once you have your licence it is valid in any EU member state.
So what are the formalities
for getting your Spanish driving licence?
Well it all starts
with getting your NIE, or national identity number. This involves downloading
an EX-15 form, from the website of the Spanish Department of
Foreign Affairs, filling it out and bringing it along with your identity card or
passport and proof of your economic activity in Spain to the Spanish Foreign
Office (Oficina de Extranjeria).
After paying a fee of
around €10 you’ll receive your NIE.
You can also go to
the Spanish embassy in your country to obtain a NIE that’s valid for three
months. Next, you need to get an Empadronamiento, which registers your name on
the census of the local town hall. This will require proof of your identity as
well as proof of address.
Once in possession of
these documents, bring them to your local Directorate General for Traffic or
DGT office. You will also need to bring 2 colour passport-sized photos for your
licence and a medical certificate (Certificado Medico) to prove that you are
both mentally and physically able to drive.
Now you are ready to
start your lessons.
There are no
compulsory school hours to attend before you can do your test; however, unlike
in the UK, there are no provisional licences in Spain, so before you pass your
test, the only person you can drive with is a licenced instructor. The average
price for a one hour lesson is around €25. On top of this you will have to pay
for your theory classes. These can cost between €30-35 a month or a one-off fee
of about €300.
The first test covers
driver theory, which consists of 30 questions to be carried out within 30
minutes, allowing a maximum of three errors. The test is done by computer and
allows you a choice of language. Be warned, preparation for the theory test in
Spain is quite demanding and comes in the form of a thick manual containing 629
rules, including lengthy chapters on first aid and vehicle maintenance. All of
which must be learned.
The second test is a
practical one of 25 minutes and is performed in Spanish. It consists of
questions about the vehicle, 5 minutes of driving towards a destination and a
20 minute driving tour following the instructor’s directions. If the practical
test is not passed it must be repeated and you will have to wait at least 12
There are numerous
fees to be paid along the way towards obtaining your licence and different
formulas available to get you through the process, but in the end, depending on
the number of driving hours or the driving school chosen, the cost of obtaining
your license will be approximately €650 to €1200.
It’s easier said than
done, but that all there is to it! Time to start planning that road trip…