Getting Married and Prenups in Spain
Don’t let the paperwork get in the way – rely on experts to take care of the legal procedure to get married under Spanish law, and dedicate your time and efforts to planning your wedding party.
How can Klev&Vera help you get married in Spain?
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Klev&Vera, your English speaking lawyers in Spain.
Make sure you start the new chapter in your life on the right foot. You want the biggest day of your life to be joyful and memorable, don’t let the legal paperwork get into your way. Filing a marriage application by foreigners can be daunting, some documents required by the Spanish Civil Registry may not be familiar to you. By handing the paperwork to our dedicated team of professionals you will make sure that all the stressful parts of dealing with red tape will be taken care of. With many years of experience advising expats on how to get married in Spain, you can be sure the process will be smooth and as fast as possible under Spanish law.
Our law firm is made of English-speaking lawyers and paralegals who have years of experience in premium assistance for foreign clients in their marriage and partnership registrations.
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Types of marriages allowed under the Spanish law
Spanish law allows marriages under civil law, or religious marriages. If you wish to register your civil marriage you can start the request either through the corresponding civil registry, or a notary public. Civil marriages can be celebrated in front of a civil judge, mayor, Civil Registry, or notary public. Religious marriages are celebrated according to the rules of your religion (e.g. Catholic marriages or Islamic marriages each have to follow their own regulations and procedures). However, for a religious marriage to be recognised publicly, it has to be registered in the corresponding civil registry after the celebration.
Since July 2015 same sex couples can legally marry in Spain, the requirements being the same as for hetero couples. Read more in our article on how to get married in Spain.
Signing a Prenup or Postnup in Spain
Whether you want to get married or register your partnership, or have already done it, it may be a good idea to regulate the economic relationship with your partner to make sure each of you understands and accepts the current status and the division of future assets, taking all potential causes of conflicts out of your way.
Spanish law in family matters is complex, and differs depending on the region where you got married: for example, if you get married in Catalonia, by default a separation of assets will apply, but if you register your marriage in a Basque Country, it is quite the opposite, so a couple will have joint assets from the day of the marriage. Making sure both of you understand and agree with how the assets and income of each of you will be regulated during your marriage and in an unlikely case of its termination, significantly simplifies your life, and help you reduce any chances of confrontations to a minimum.
Our law firm is made of English-speaking lawyers and paralegals who have years of experience in premium assistance to negotiate and sign prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for foreign clients.
What you need to know about getting married and signing a prenup/postnup in Spain
You can get married in Spain only if one of the partners is a legal resident in Spain. You will need to collect certain documents first, and lodge your marriage application either in the Civil Registry or a Notary Association of the area you live in. Our expert family lawyers can assist you in dealing with the legal paperwork as efficiently as possible, to reduce your worries and get you the desired date.
Can non-Spanish residents get married in Spain?
You can only get married in Spain if one of the spouses resides in Spain and has his/her address registered (empadronamiento) in the corresponding City or Town Hall. It is possible to register the marriage with the passport number.
Can I marry a non-resident?
Yes, Spanish law requires that at least one of the partners is a Spanish resident, and the other partner can be a non-resident.
Does marriage revoke a will in Spain?
Getting married does not necessarily revoke a will automatically, but we strongly advise to consult with an expert on inheritance law to get a good understanding on what rights your spouse will have in case of your death according to the applicable civil law. International inheritance law is very complex, and it is required to determine which national law is applicable in such cases, what rights spouses/partners have, and if they can or cannot be overruled by a will.
Do you need witnesses to get married in Spain?
Yes, to initiate your marriage file in the Civil Registry you must come accompanied by at least one witness that knows both partners well, it can be a family member of one of you. Later, during the marriage ceremony itself, you will need to be accompanied by 2 witnesses.
What is needed to get married in Spain?
- your ID documents
- civil status certificate – to prove your marriage capacity and that you are not married to someone else
- birth certificate – to prove you are not relatives
- your address registration certificate (Padrón)
The main documents required to get married in Spain, either in the Civil Registry or in front of a notary public, are mostly the same.
In order to get married in Spain, one of the future spouses needs to be a resident in Spain. It is not obligatory to have Spanish nationality, and two foreigners can marry in Spain regardless of their legal status, just as they can marry as persons of the same sex even if the legislation of their country of origin does not allow it. It is however obligatory to have your address registered (tener empadronamiento) in the Town Hall of the place of your residence in Spain. To start the process of registering a civil marriage you need to decide whether you prefer to register it in front of a notary public, or civil registry. Then you need to start the marriage application accordingly.
How do I register a UK or US marriage in Spain?
You need to register a marriage that took place in the UK or US only if at least one of the two spouses has Spanish nationality or acquires it after the marriage was registered, and resides in Spain. It can be done in the Central Civil Registry of Spain, and you need to start the process through a local Civil Registry of your current place of residence. It can be done in Spain or through the Spanish consulate responsible for your place of residence abroad.
How long does it take to register a foreign marriage in Spain?
The marriage celebrated abroad must be registered in the Spanish Central Civil Registry if at least one of the two spouses has Spanish nationality or acquires it after the marriage was registered, and resides in Spain. To register a marriage celebrated abroad you need to go to a corresponding Civil Registry of your current place of residence, it can be done in Spain or through the Spanish consulate responsible for your place of residence abroad. The process is slow, unfortunately, and with the current processing speed, it can take between a few months to 2 years.
What is a prenuptial agreement for marriage?
Prenup is a legal agreement between the spouses that regulates how their assets and income will be ruled after the marriage, and what happens should the couple decide to separate. It is always best to envisage and regulate as many potential sources of conflicts as may arise in the future. It is typical to agree in advance on what happens to the assets that each spouse had before getting married, and all assets and income of the spouses after celebrating the marriage, including those ones that are inherited or received in donation.
Some couples choose to include basic rules on child maintenance and compensatory pension in case of a separation or divorce.
If you got married without signing a prenup, it is always possible to do it afterwards, in such cases it is called a postnup.
Is it good to have a prenuptial agreement?
It is always highly recommended, and the more wealth each of you have, the better it is to sign a prenup or postnup. As any contract it serves to dot the Is and cross the Ts, and reduces potential causes of conflict in always complicated and stressful situations of a separation or divorce.
How strong is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenup or postnup is binding if done legally and does not abuse the rights of one of the spouses. A prenup or postnup has to be drafted by a family lawyer in the place of common residence of the spouses. Nowadays more and more “global families” – mixed couples that travel the world – register their marriage in one country but then move to live in another one, sometimes changing places of residence several times, and with children born in different countries. We are used to working with cases just like yours and can help you draft your prenup to prevent any inconveniences in the future.
Are prenups legal in Spain?
Yes, they are legal and highly recommended; the document is called “capitulaciones matrimoniales”, your lawyer can draft it for you and assist with signing it in front of a notary public.
Are prenups enforceable in Spain?
Yes, you can certainly enforce your prenup in Spain by initiating an appropriate judicial procedure. In complex international family cases the Spanish court will determine the applicable law and study whether your prenuptial or postnuptial contract is legal and applicable and does not diminish the legal rights of one of the spouses or children.