Request the divorce or separation

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The divorce ends the marriage. The separation of people and assets does not end the marriage, it simply ends the obligation to live in the same house and contribute to the expenses of a life together.

Divorce

If you decide that your marriage no longer makes sense, you may request the divorce. You don’t need the consent of your wife or husband, nor to prove that he/she didn’t comply with the marriage duties. Nevertheless, if you both agree, the divorce process is simpler and faster.

There are three types of divorce:

  • the divorce by mutual consent, which may be requested in a civil registry office if both persons agree on the end of the marriage and on the essential matters that must be solved in the time of the divorce
  • the divorce by mutual consent in court, which may be requested if both persons agree on the end of the marriage, but not on the divorce conditions
  • the divorce without the consent of one spouse, which may be requested in a court when only one party wishes to end the marriage.

Together with the divorce, the sharing of the couple’s assets may be requested, i.e. the division of the assets held by them. If the divorce is requested in court, it always requires the division of such assets.

Separation of persons and assets

The separation of people and assets changes the marriage property scheme: the individuals remain married, but under the separation of property scheme. Furthermore, they are no longer under the obligation to live together and to contribute to a life together. The separation of people and assets ends if there is a reconciliation, but it may also be turned into a divorce, if the members of the couple intend that.

The separation of people and assets may be requested in the registry office if both persons agree. If they don’t agree, it must be requested in court.

The information in this guide is organized as follows:

Before the divorce

Before deciding to get the divorce or separation, the couple may resort to family mediation to try to solve their conflicts.

In family mediation, the members of the couple try to solve the issues with the help of a mediator specialized on the resolution of family relationships conflicts.

For example, the mediator may help to solve conflicts regarding:

  • regulation, alteration and noncompliance of the paternal responsibilities
  • divorce and separation of people and assets
  • turning the separation of people and assets into a divorce
  • reconciliation of the separated couple
  • assignment and alteration of the maintenance allowance/alimony
  • the destination of the house where the couple lived (family house)
  • authorisation or prohibition to use the surnames of the person from whom they separated.

If both persons agree on the end of the marriage, they may opt for the divorce by mutual consent - also known as amicable divorce.

In the divorce by mutual consent, the members of the couple agree on the end of the marriage. Therefore, they don’t need to specify the reason for the divorce.

This divorce may be requested:

  • in the civil registry office, in person or online
  • in a court.

The process in the civil registry office is simpler and faster, but only possible if the persons also agree on:

  • the destination of the house where they lived
  • the amount of the maintenance allowance/alimony, if they intend to assign a maintenance allowance/alimony to any of the persons
  • the list of assets held by the couple and its value
  • how to exercise the parental responsibilities over the minor child(ren), if applicable.

When there is no agreement on one of the points above, it’s necessary to initiate a process of divorce by mutual consent in court.

Request the divorce by mutual consent in the civil registry office

The divorce request may be submitted in person or online, by the members of the couple or by their representatives. It is not mandatory to hire a lawyer.

To request the divorce, the persons must submit:

  • a written request stating that they wish to get divorced (it may be drafted in the registry office)
  • a written agreement or the certificate of the court’s decision on the parental responsibilities, if there are minor children
  • a written agreement on the payment of a maintenance allowance/alimony, if applicable
  • a written agreement on the destination of the house where they live
  • a list of assets held by the couple, with the indication of their values, in the case of divorce with sharing of assets
  • an agreement on the sharing of assets, in the case of a divorce with sharing of assets
  • a prenuptial agreement certificate, if there is a prenuptial agreement and it had not been carried out in a registry office and the property scheme chosen is not specified in the marriage registration.

After the initiation of the process, the registrar analyses the documents and, if everything is correct, a divorce meeting is scheduled.

If the couple has minor children, the process follows the following steps:

  1. The registrar sends the parental responsibilities agreement to the Public Prosecution, for its assessment.
  2. If the Public Prosecution deems that the agreement does not duly protect the children, it will indicate the necessary amendments.
  3. The registrar informs the couple to submit a new agreement or to correct that one according to the Public Prosecution’s indications.
  4. If they opt for the amendment of the agreement, the registrar schedules the divorce meeting. If they prefer to make a new agreement, it must be reassessed.
  5. If the couple does not agree with the amendments requested, the process is sent to court.

The divorce process is also sent to court if the registrar deems that some of the agreements don’t protect any of the individuals involved in the divorce.

When the divorce is sent to court, even though it’s a divorce by mutual consent, it shall be established by a court decision.

For more detailed information on how to request the divorce in the registry office, consult the page Request the divorce by mutual consent.

Request the divorce by mutual consent in court

A request for a divorce by mutual consent has to be submitted to court whenever the persons agree on the decision to divorce but it’s not possible to complete the procedure in the registry office.

  1. Because there is no agreement between the members of the couple on one of these matters

The process must end in court when no agreement can be reached on:

  • the destination of the house where the couple lived
  • the amount of the maintenance allowance/alimony, if the couple intends to assign a maintenance allowance/alimony to any of the members
  • the list of assets held by the couple and its value
  • how to exercise the parental responsibilities over the minor child(ren).
  1. Because it’s not possible to accept the agreements that the couple submitted in the registry office

If the registrar doesn’t accept any of the agreements submitted with the divorce request because he/she does not consider it reasonable, the registrar sends the divorce process to court.

In such cases, the court:

  1. analyses the agreements submitted by the members of the couple and proposes any amendments that may be necessary if he/she considers that the agreements don’t protect the interests of one of the members of the couple or their children
  2. specifies the conditions for divorce in the matters on which the persons have not reached an agreement
  3. decrees the divorce by mutual consent.

Sharing of the couple’s assets

If the members of the couple wish, they may choose to share their common assets in the civil registry office, at the same time as the divorce by mutual consent. If they prefer, they may do so afterwards.

If the divorce by mutual consent is carried out in court, the sharing of assets will be carried out by the court.

How much does the divorce cost

Divorce by mutual consent in the registry office

The cost of the divorce process is 280 €.

The cost of the process of divorce by mutual consent with sharing and registry of the couple's assets is 625 €.

The process can be free of charge if the members of the couple prove that they have economic difficulties that prevent them from paying the costs of the process.

Divorce by mutual consent in court

The cost of divorce in court will depend on the amount of court fees and the amount payable to the lawyer.

If one of the members of the couple can’t afford to pay for the divorce, they can apply for legal assistance.

The divorce without consent of one spouse is requested in court by the person who intends to divorce. In order for the divorce to be established, the person requesting the divorce must present facts showing that the marriage is definitively broken.

This process replaces the old litigious divorce. In the current process, the aim is to put an end to the union that, for at least one of the persons, no longer makes sense. Therefore, there is no judgment on the guilt of the people who are getting divorced.

There must be a cause for the divorce

During divorce processes without consent, the divorce seeker has to reveal the cause of the divorce and prove that this situation exists.

As valid grounds for divorce are considered:

  • Separation for more than a year in a row, i.e. when people stop living as a couple and intend to break up the life together, even if they continue to live in the same house.
  • A change in the mental faculties of the other person - due to a mental or psychological illness which diminishes or removes the lucidity or intellectual capacity - which has lasted for more than a year and which, because of its seriousness, jeopardizes the possibility of living together.
  • The absence, without news, of the other person for a year in a row - it’s not enough that the person does not establish contact, it’s necessary that no news of him/her is known, neither through the person himself/herself nor through other people.
  • The definitive rupture of life together, which:
    • should be based on one or more facts (other than the separation for more than one year, change in the mental faculties or absence)
    • must be based on facts which show that the marriage has come to an end
    • must be definitive, irremediable, unsolvable - it must not be a minor misunderstanding between the couple, an occasional or temporary rupture
    • must be an objective situation which can be ascertained and is not the result of the simple will of one of the persons.

How does the process work

The process of divorce without consent must be presented to a court by the lawyer of the member of the couple who wants to end the marriage.

A lawyer is required for this process. If one of the members of the couple can’t afford to pay for a lawyer, they can apply for legal assistance.

When the lawyer starts the process, he/she explains the cause of the divorce and submits the list of witnesses and evidence to present in court. If the court deems that the process can be continued, a date will be set, for an attempt at conciliation between the members of the couple. This attempt is mandatory.

If the members of the couple are reconciled, the process ends there.

If the members of the couple don’t reconcile, one of two things can happen:

  • if one of the persons doesn’t intend to divorce, the divorce process continues and the person who doesn’t intend to divorce receives a notice from the court to speak up on the request
  • if both persons intend to divorce, the process can be turned into a process of divorce by mutual consent in court and an attempt is made to reach an agreement between the persons.

How much does the divorce cost

The cost of divorce in court will depend on the amount of court fees and the amount payable to the lawyer.

If any of the members of the couple cannot afford to pay for the divorce, they can apply for legal assistance.

What are the effects of the divorce

The divorce ends the marriage.

The divorced individuals may keep their married names if the other party has consented or if the court so authorises.

Sharing of the couple’s assets

In the divorce without consent, it’s necessary to share the couple's assets.

Regardless of the marriage assets scheme, none of the members of the couple may receive more assets in the sharing than they would have received if they had chosen the acquired property scheme. In addition, when divorced, people lose their entitlement to any assets they have already received or are about to receive because of being married.

As the divorce is no longer based on one person's fault, it’s no longer possible to claim compensation for the end of the marriage. If they wish to claim compensation for damages caused by the other member of the couple, they will have to start a court proceeding for civil liability. However, the person who has financially contributed much more during the marriage than was supposed, can claim a compensation for this when the assets are shared.

The court can give the house where they lived to any member of the couple, even if it’s the other person's house. The house is rented to the member of the couple who needs it the most. Each person's economic situation, age, health status, location of home in relation to work and whether or not they have another home to live in will be considered. It is also assessed whether the house is suitable for the person's housing needs.

Maintenance allowance/Alimony

Any member of the couple may be entitled to a maintenance allowance/alimony. It must be assessed, in each case, whether it makes sense to establish such allowance, considering the economic situation of the couple and of each of its members.

It is considered that each of the members of the couple must ensure their subsistence after the divorce. Therefore, if one person becomes responsible for paying the other a maintenance allowance/alimony, they are not obliged to maintain the standard of living from which the other person benefited while they were married.

To set the amount of the allowance, the court can consider factors such as:

  • the duration of marriage
  • the collaboration of the person for the couple’s economy
  • the age and health status of the persons
  • the professional qualifications and employment opportunities of the person concerned
  • the time that the person will have to spend to take care of the common children
  • the person's income
  • new marriages or non-marital partnerships.

It is given preference to the payment of maintenance allowances/alimony to children over the obligation to pay a maintenance allowance/alimony to the person to whom they were married.

Minor child(ren)

The custody of the couple's children, the maintenance allowance/alimony and the payment method must be decided by an agreement between the members of the couple and authorised by the court.

If they don’t agree, the court must decide according to the interests of the children, trying to maintain a close relationship between the children and the two members of the couple.

Separation of persons and assets

The separation of assets does not dissolve the marriage, it only changes its property scheme. In other words, people are still married but they will be under the separation of property scheme. Moreover, it puts an end to the duties of cohabitation and assistance, which means that people no longer have the obligation to live together and to contribute to the costs of life together.

With the separation of people and assets, people no longer have to live together, although they remain married. Nevertheless, none of the members of the couple can marry another person and they remain obliged to respect the duties of faithfulness, cooperation and respect.

The separation of people and assets may be carried out:

  • by mutual consent, in the civil registry office
    • with the sharing of the couple’s assets
    • without the sharing of the couple's assets
  • without agreement, in court - it’s called judicial separation of people and assets and has the same effects to the couple's assets as would have the end of the marriage.

It is possible to request the separation of people and assets by mutual consent in the civil registry office if both members of the couple agree on the essential matters of separation. If there is no agreement between the members of the couple, it’s necessary to go to court.

Separation in the registry office

To request the separation in the registry office, people need to agree on the conditions under which they want to make the separation and have to submit the following documents:

  • a written request for separation of people and assets signed by both members of the couple (or by their representatives (it’s not obligatory to bring this request, as it can be made in the registry office)
  • a list of assets held by the couple, with the indication of its values, and an agreement on the sharing of such assets
  • a written agreement or the certificate of the court’s decision on the parental responsibilities, if there are minor children
  • a written agreement on the payment of a maintenance allowance/alimony from a member of the couple to the other, if the couple agrees on such a payment
  • a written agreement which establishes the destination of the house where they live
  • a prenuptial agreement certificate, if there is a prenuptial agreement and it had not been carried out in a registry office and the property scheme chosen is not included in the marriage registration.

The couple may choose to share their assets together with the separation or to share it at another time.

For more detailed information on how to request the separation in the registry office, consult the Request the separation of people and assets page.

Separation in court

The request for separation has to be presented in court whenever the members of the couple don’t agree on one of the following matters:

  • the destination of the house where they lived
  • the amount of the maintenance allowance/alimony, if they intend to assign a maintenance allowance/alimony to any of the persons
  • the list of assets held by the couple and their value
  • how to exercise the parental responsibilities over the minor child(ren).

This separation of people and assets is called a judicial separation. The court analyses the issues that need to be solved and helps the couple to solve them. It also decides on matters on which there is no agreement. At the end of the process, it declares the separation of people and assets.

If the separation is carried out in court, the sharing of assets is decided by the court.

The judicial separation can be turned into a divorce

One year after the separation declared in court without the couple being reconciled, any member of the couple may request to turn the judicial separation into a divorce.

If both members of the couple agree on requesting the conversion, there is no need to wait a year - they can request it whenever they wish.

This conversion has a cost of 100 €.