Getting married in Spain

1. Civil and religious marriage

Under Spanish law, both civil and religious marriages are legal. People under 18 are not authorised to marry in Spain.

  • Civil Marriages: The consent to get married is given to the correspondent officer pursuant to the principles of the Spanish Civil Code. The marriage shall be solemnized by the Judge in charge of the Civil Registry, by the town Mayor or by the officer duly authorised, or by the diplomatic officer of the Civil Registry abroad.
  • Religious Marriages: Catholic, protestant and Jewish marriage may be celebrated in Spain. The certificate of marriage issued by the Church after the ceremony must be registered with the Spanish civil registry in order to get an official marriage certificate.

2. Documentation required

If you are planning to marry in Spain, be noticed that you will need the following documents:

  • Your passport
  • Original birth certificate
  • Application to marry form
  • Proof that the two parties are single. A form can be obtained from the civil registry of your home country
  • If previously married, the original final divorce decree or death certificate.
  • Certificate of residence: If you are non-resident, you may sign an affidavit before your consular officer.
  • Certificate of Consular Inscription: Can be obtained from your embassy or consulate.

Baptismal certificate is also needed when arranging Catholic marriages. The required documents must be presented to the priest performing the ceremony.

All documents from outside Spain must be officially translated into Spanish and duly legalized.

3. Articles of marriage

It is the agreement reached between the parties to the marriage in order to establish, modify or substitute their matrimonial property regime.

Although spouses in Spain are not obliged to establish articles of marriage, if they wish to do so, the following conditions must be met:

  • The articles of marriage shall be granted before a Notary
  • The spouses may agree the articles of marriage before they get married or in the course of the marriage.
  • The articles of marriage must be registered with the Spanish Civil Registry.
  • The articles of marriage shall establish the matrimonial property regime.

As a general rule, the property regime applicable to marriages held in Spain is that established by the bride and groom in the articles of marriage. Therefore, if nothing is agreed, the common assets matrimonial property regime will be applicable. Except for those Spanish communities where regional law provides a different regime, Autonomous Communities such as Catalonia, Aragon, Balearic islands, Basque country and Navarra.

4. Spanish matrimonial property regimes

The marital property regime may be defined as the assemble rules on the matrimonial property.

The spouses may agree their property regime by establishing the articles of marriage. If nothing is agreed, the common assets matrimonial property regime will be applicable, except for those Spanish communities where regional law provides a different regime, Autonomous Communities such as Catalonia, Balearic islands, Basque country and Navarra.

In Spain there are three types of matrimonial property regime.

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 Spanish Lawyer, who may advise you about the property regimes which would better suit your purposes.

4.1. The Community property matrimonial regime

The Community Property (regimen de gananciales) is the most common matrimonial property regime in Spain. If no pre nuptial agreement is signed, the spouses are automatically married under this regime. In those Spanish Autonomous Communities where regional law states that a different economic regime must be applicable, the community property regime shall be expressly convened in the articles of marriage.

Under this regime, all property and rights acquired by a husband and wife during marriage is jointly owned. Each spouse owns an undivided one half in all such commonly owned property. In the event of divorce, each spouse is entitled to his / her share of this community property.

The assets of the communaute consists of all assets and rights owned by the spouses at the time of agreeing on the community property system, the assets acquired by the spouses during their marriage, which are the fruits of their efforts, as well as the profits of all kinds obtained by the spouses.

The separately-owned assets consists of:

  • The property previously owned or acquired after the marriage by personal gift, inheritance or legacy.
  • Those assets necessary to perform the professional activity, where either of the spouses exercises a profession separately from the other.
  • The assets acquired through subrogation of other exclusive rights.
  • The sums from compensations paid on grounds injuries

The assets indicated above remain separately owned by every party.

The spouses shall support and maintain the family with their common property. The liabilities of the common property consists of all those debts which each of the spouses has incurred, for whatever reasons, during marriage.

The spouses shall jointly manage the common-held property.

The following are causes for dissolution of the marital common property:

  • When the marriage is dissolved, e.g. because of one of the spouses’ death.
  • When the marriage is declared to be void.
  • When legal separation is accomplished by court decree.
  • When the spouses agree, by establishing articles of marriage, a different property regime.
  • When one of the spouses is no legally capable.
  • When one of the spouses is condemned for abandoning his/her family.
  • When there exist a court decree determining one spouse to be disappeared.

When the community property has been dissolved, the property must be divided up, deducting the corresponding debts from the remaining jointly-owned property. After that the real estate must be renamed at the Land Registry once the property transfer tax and the capital gains tax has been paid.

4.2. Separate Property Matrimonial Regime

According to the Separate Property Marital Regime (Rí©gimen de Separación de Bienes), each spouse owns the property acquired before marriage and in the course of it. Neither of the spouses need the other’s consent to sell, rent; his/her assets.

Take on the household duties entitle to receive an economic compensation from the other spouse, which will be determined by the judicial authority upon extinguishing the economic matrimonial regime.

In case of doubt on to which of the spouses a certain asset or right belong to, it shall be understood that this belongs equally to both spouses in undivided halves.

Both spouses will jointly pay the costs to support the family in proportion to their respective income.

This regime applies in case that both spouses had expressly agreed this on the articles of marriage or when the regional law, from the Spanish Autonomous Community where the marriage was held, so provides.

Every spouse is only liable for the obligations that he or she contracted.

4.3. The profit sharing marital regime

4.3.1. Overview

The profit sharing matrimonial regime (Rí©gimen de participación de bienes) attributes to any of the spouses, upon the extinguishments of the system, the entitlement to participate or share in the profits obtained by the other spouse during the time in which such system has been effective.

This regime needs to be agreed upon in the articles of marriage, before or during marriage.

Each spouse is entitled to manage, enjoy and free disposition of their own assets as well as of those acquired while this economic system is in course.

This regime may be extinguished by the same causes that apply for the community property regime. Upon the extinction of the regime, any of the spouses is entitled to participate or share in the profits obtained by the other spouse during the time in which such system has been effective.

4.3.2. How are the credits determined?

Upon termination of this regime the profits are calculated as the difference between the final and initial property of each spouse. The profits shall be shared between the spouses in the same proportion, 50% percent each.

After calculations, the spouse who has obtained less profits shall be entitled to half of the difference between the value of his own profits and that of the profits obtained by the other spouse.

If only one of the spouses has obtained profits, the other spouse shall be entitled to half the value of such profits.

The spouses may convene a participation in profits different from one half of the profits if it is established reciprocally and equally in favour of any of them.

4.3.3. How should the participation credit be paid?

The participation credit shall be paid in cash, though the indebted party may request from the judicial authority a postponement of the payment credit. The postponement of the payment may not exceed the period of 3 years, the participation credit plus interests shall be granted.

The participation credit may also be paid by means of the granting of particular assets, upon agreement of the interested parties or determined by the judicial authority.

If the debtor lacks sufficient assets to pay the participation credit, the creditor may request the rescission of any dispositions that the debtor may have made in a gratuitous manner without the creditor’s consent and those made in fraud of his own rights.These actions expire after 2 years from the termination of the system.

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