Live-in relationships in Spain

1. Partnerships in Spain

Couples cohabit, rather than marry, for a variety of reasons. Each region in Spain has different regulations with regard to unmarried couples. Unmarried couples in Spain will receive legal protection  if the partners meet the following requirements:

  • It can either be an opposite-sex couple or same-sex couple.
  • You must be stably cohabiting (living together).
  • You must have common interests to maintain a family life together.

Current Spanish law does not state the period of time unmarried couples must have lived together before becoming legally established.

The live-in couple is entitled to settle the following:

  • Private contracts.
  • Bank contracts: granting of a loan, bank accounts, credit cards, etc.
  • Contracts with third parties: rentals, sale of assets; This proves that the couple share common assets.

Some aspects may prove that the unmarried couple lives together:

  • Their common Domicile for tax purposes and their common registration with the town council.
  • Their common children.
  • Their family Book (Libro de Familia), which is issued by the Spanish Civil Register.
  • Their registration at the De Facto Relationships Register Office (Registro de Uniones de Hecho), for which they make a public statement that they live together.

2. Legal recognition of same-sex partnerships in Spain

Since same-sex marriage in Spain became legal in 2005, Spanish law recognizes same-sex unions.

3. Live-in Relationships Register Offices

Nowadays, there exists about 100 local register Offices for live-in couples in Spain.

Some requirements are needed to enable live-in couples to register:

  • The cohabitors must be of legal age or being emancipated minors
  • They must be legally capable
  • They must register with the town council where the Register Office is located

Registration is not allowed for unions of close relatives.

4. Termination of the live-in relationship

The live-in relationship may be terminated:

  • In case of death of one cohabitor
  • By mutual consent of the partners
  • Decided unilaterally by one partner

Legal controversy arising among the partners may only by solved before Spanish courts.

These are only general guidelines and not definitive statements of the law. Any legal questions about specific cases should be directed to a Spanish lawyer.

5. How to protect your partner

For the time being, Spanish law affords no real protection with regard to assets for couples who choose to live together but are not married.

In the event of a break up the person whose name is on the ownership papers, retains complete ownership. The law makes no provision for the fact that one member of the couple may have contributed more than the other to such  assets.

A cohabitation agreement provides at least some legal protection for each partner should the relationship break down, or if a member of the couple should die. These agreements can be drawn up by your Spanish lawyer.

Unmarried partners do not automatically inherit their partner’s assets when their partner dies.  If one partner dies without a will having been drawn out and signed, the assets of the deceased automatically pass to his/her family, not his/her partner.

A will can ensure that any joint property is not wrongfully claimed by a family member, and can specify your own desires about who gets your property.

6. Use of the family home for live-in relationships

Houses or apartments acquired by the live-ins during cohabitation are jointly owned. When cohabiting couples separate each partner owns an undivided one half in such common property; each cohabitor is entitled to his/her share of this common property, unless otherwise is provided in the Purchase Deed.

In case of separation, if the partners had common children, they must live in the house with the partner that the judge decides, regardless who is the owner of the property.

7. Widow’s pension

Unmarried couples are entitled to widow’s pension, as long as the partner provides proof of the registration of cohabitation with the deceased person, and that the income of the surviving partner over the last year did not reach the 50% of the  total income of both partners.

Widow’s pension is terminated upon marriage of the beneficiary.

8. In case of dispute

In the event of a break up, any dispute arising about common children of the partners must be handled before Spanish courts.

9. Get legal help

Get solid legal advice regarding your live-in relationship in Spain:
» Ask an English-speaking Spanish lawyer now.

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