Divorce in Spain

The Spanish government is going ahead with its pledge to reform divorce legislation in Spain. Although originally last week government spokesmen said that divorce would be granted in just 10 days, the Spanish Justice Minister intervened towards the end of last week and said that only a minority of cases would be granted divorce in 10 days, and that the government expected the average waiting period to be two months.

This is a vast improvement on the current system, and although the Catholic Church in Spain has heavily criticised this latest move, the majority of the electorate support it. Divorce was legalised in 1981 when a very timid law was passed by Spain’s new democratic government in the face of heavy criticism again from the Church and the Military. It has not been reformed since, and many believe that if it was already outdated when it was created, it is certainly unsuitable for modern Spain and for changed social values.

The changes to be introduced by the Socialist government are aimed at

  • clearing a backlog of cases – cases can take up to 2 years to settle here, but under the new law will take a maximum of 6 months and a minimum of 10 days –
  • and also at encouraging shared custody of children – something which has become an issue here very recently, as the old law almost always gave custody of the children automatically to the mother.

The notion of a “guilty party” in divorce, due to infidelity or abuse, will also disappear and couples will no longer have to prove responsibility for the marital breakdown. Nor will they have to prove they have been separated for a year before applying for divorce.

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