Family Law

The breakdown of a relationship, whether inside or outside of marriage, can be a stressful and traumatic experience especially where children are involved.

Family Law covers matters which are difficult to mix such as family relations/affections and financial affairs. This difficult blend creates many problems which do not have a perfect solution.

How does the family law relate or work with different countries?

The movement of people across borders is getting more and more common to the point of being normal.

Thus, it is also very common that British nationals and Spaniards form families and marry.

In normal circumstances the Law will not intervene, yet it might be that the spouses divorce/seperate and one party returns to the UK.

Can the returning parent claim custody of the children? Do they have liabilities pertaining to maintenance for children living in a different country? If they have gone back to the UK and the couple has already separated who is entitled to file for divorce, and where?

The above questions, and many others, apply to many other cases and possible scenarios, and with the cross borders movement of people, both legal and illegal immigration grows, the cases become more common and also more complex.

If you are living or working in Spain you will require the assistance of an experienced English speaking lawyer.

Which cases can you help with?

Our specialist bi-lingual team in London and Spain can assist with all possible scenarios and situations including the following:

  • Divorce
  • Civil Partnerships
  • Separation Agreements
  • Child Maintenance
  • Co-habitation Agreements
  • Child Access Arrangements
  • Financial Settlements

Separation or Divorce

On the breakdown of a marital relationship some couples may not wish to proceed with a divorce at the outset. This may be for a variety of reasons, such as consideration for children or financial constraints.

If you would prefer to obtain a divorce there are many issues that need to be considered.

Our specialist family team can advise on the timing and grounds of the divorce and progress matters through to Decree Absolute on your behalf.

Can I file for divorce in Spain if I am British?

Yes, you certainly can. Actually it is advisable to file a divorce in the place where the couple was/are resident.

If my husband or wife has flown to the UK, how will he receive the Court documents?

There is cooperation between most countries with regards family matters and divorce.

The authorities are aware of the consequences of a family breakdown, especially when there are minor children involved.

Therefore there are mechanisms and schemes in place which allows the Courts and Police forces to step into disputes and assist the weaker more vulnerable parties.

The cooperation between countries and jurisdictions involves making citations, summons and interim measures applicable cross-border in a prompt and effective way.


Children are always a paramount consideration upon the breakdown of a relationship. You may need assistance to assess the requirements of your children both in financial terms and in relation to contact rights, residency and parental responsibility.

Can a claim for maintenance and / or children support be filed in Spain when my spouse has already left the country and is back in the UK?

Yes, you most certainly can. In fact this is a situation which is more and more frequent. In these cases the Court in Spain where you are resident will liaise with the Court where your ex-spouse is resident in order to serve the relevant documents.

The cases for maintenance, alimony and other payments pertaining children support are dealt with through a specific cooperation protocol.

The measures or enforcements are applied regardless of the place of residence of the parties, and always looks towards the welfare of the children specifically if they are minors.

I have heard that a parent who does not pay the maintenance can go to Court, is that true?

It is true. The authorities and legislators are very much aware of the issues and consequences that unattended minors can face and act accordingly.

In extreme cases the parent who does not comply with the financial agreement (or the Judge´s resolutions on maintenance) can be prosecuted and eventually imprisoned.

Financial Settlement

On the breakdown of a marital relationship or civil partnership, the main difficulty can often be agreeing division of the assets.

An additional concern can be the on-going maintenance for one or other party and/or the children.

In addition to providing advice, we can negotiate a settlement on your behalf, or if necessary, prepare your case for Court in Spain.

Do I have to call a solicitor in any case?

The financial settlement of divorcing couples can be agreed between the parties without the need of a solicitor only if there are no children involved.

If the marriage has borne children, then the settlement must be authorised by the Judge. We would always advise that legal advice is sought if you are considering divorce regardless of whether you have children or not.

What can I negotiate and agree in a financial settlement?

A financial settlement is a contract, and as such the parties can agree any term and condition they wish.

Once signed by both ex-spouses the agreement is enforceable.

The only limitation is that, if there are children, the rights and welfare of these must be observed and, as previously stated, the agreement must be approved by a Judge.

Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation with one of our English speaking team.

Related Articles

Divorce in Spain

Family Law – Custody

Family Law – Matrimony