Getting Divorce in Spain as a Foreigner

getting a divorce in Spain

When and how can a foreigner get a divorce in Spain? In this article we will explore all the crucial aspects, requirements, and nuances of this process, both for marriages between two foreigners in Spain and for mixed marriages between a foreigner and a Spanish national.

This issue is of utmost importance, since we must take into account that if you got married abroad and later registered your marriage in Spain, getting divorced abroad will not be enough for such marriage to no longer be valid in Spanish territory (even if one of the two parties is Spanish).

Hence, here is how to successfully complete this process and all that it entails.

The first and most important thing you must verify in order to be able to divorce in Spain is that your marriage celebrated abroad has been previously registered in the Spanish Central Registry.

This process is known as exequatur.

Otherwise, that marriage would not be valid here, and therefore you would not be able to break it from a legal standpoint.

On the other hand, and as a second requirement, in order to initiate the divorce in Spain of a foreign marriage, it will be essential to ensure that both spouses have their last domicile in the Spanish territory (something that can be demonstrated through the city hall registration form, called “empadronamiento”), as long as one of the two members of the marriage still lives in Spain.

Or, on the other hand, if the process starts through a lawsuit on the part of just one of the two members, it’s crucial that at least the defendant has a Spanish residence.

And if the divorce is carried out by mutual agreement, it will be enough that one of the two has residency in Spain.

In short, the Spanish courts will NOT have jurisdiction and therefore you will NOT be able to divorce in Spain when neither of the two spouses is a Spanish national and neither lives in Spain, and when the one who initiates the lawsuit has residency in Spain for a period of fewer than 6 months.

Once we can validate that we meet these two requirements, we can proceed with all the steps of the divorce.

As you can see, there is no requirement related to the reasons that lead you or lead you to break the marital relationship, as it is not necessary to prove any particular cause.

In addition, keep in mind that it is possible to divorce either by mutual agreement (both parties want it) or if just one of the members of the couple wants it.

The procedure will be the same as in the case of a national divorce, with the only difference being the documentation to be provided (something we will see later in this article).

Can I get divorced if I do not know where my spouse is?

Even if the person who wants to divorce does not know the location of his or her current spouse, it is entirely possible to complete the divorce.

After the filing of the lawsuit, what happens at the legal level is that the authorities will attempt to locate the whereabouts or address of the other party

However, regardless of whether the other party is found or not, in these cases the lawsuit would be upheld and an order would be issued homologating the court judgment (and therefore the divorce would be completed).

The 2 options to get divorced as a foreigner

There are two ways to process divorce.

And that is the case both when both members are in Spain and get divorced in Spanish territory, or if they already did it abroad (since, as we have said, it will be necessary to register the divorce also here).

Thus, there are two options to file the divorce registration of a foreign marriage:

  1. First, we find the judicial path, carried out in the Spanish court located in the place corresponding to the last domicile of the couple, or where one of the spouses still lives. It would be the case also if we have a foreign judicial resolution or sentence, because in that case we would need to submit to the Spanish court the judicial demand to homologate the foreign sentence and that it is valid in Spain.
  2. On the other hand, if we do not have minor children or we have a foreign notarial public deed, we can go to a notary so that she processes the inscription in the Central Civil Registry of Madrid. This is known as “express divorce” since the process is much faster.

Once this process is completed (known as exequatur) it would be registered in the Civil Registry, you would acquire again your “single” status, and therefore be able to legally remarry.

On the other hand, and depending on the process in question, the documentation that you will have to provide differs. Below we analyze the complete list of them.

Documents you must submit to dissolve a foreign marriage in Spain

As we have mentioned above, each of the two paths to getting a divorce in Spain requires different documents.

In the case of the notarial divorce, the foreign public deed, duly apostilled must be submitted, as well as a written document addressed to the central civil registry in Madrid.

In the second case, the judicial process, the list of documents to be provided is a little more extensive:

  • The judicial sentence together with the regulatory agreement if there are children and assets
  • Identification of the parties (passport or DNI)
  • Legalized or apostilled certificate of the international marriage
  • Birth certificates of both parties
  • If they have children in common who are under 18 years old, their birth certificates
  • Census registration form (“volante de empadronamiento”)
  • Family book (if available)

Please note that all foreign documentation to be provided must be officially translated by a sworn translator (if the language is other than Spanish).

How long does it take to get divorced?

Providing an exact answer is complicated, since the duration depends on how each case unfolds. However, if we rely on statistics, we can observe that the average time that divorces take in Spain is between 3 and 4 months in total (for mutual agreement divorces).

Obviously, in process of divorce in which there assets and minor children in common are involved, and in which there is no mutual agreement, the process can be delayed much more.

If you have any doubts or would like to receive personalized advice with your immigration needs, our expert lawyers are at your disposal.

Get in touch with our lawyers and let us guide you step by step:

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