New marriage and divorce laws in Spain

Update 13 March 2014: Over the last few months since I made the post below about plans to allow notaries to conduct marriages, I’ve been asked several times whether this is now law. As I said at the time of the post, the reforms were supposed to come into force “as soon as they are approved by Parliament”, but now at least one notary is expressing frustration and annoyance that not only is the law far from “in force”, it is not anyway going to be anything like as far-reaching as the government made out.

The current state of the legal “reform” is that after nearly four months, things have hardly moved at all. The draft proposals still need to become a legal “project”, and then return to Congress, and still then will need to be sent to the Senate for subsequent approval, and finally to return to Congress for passing into law. What most annoys the notary I was speaking to, however, is that the reform, despite the fanfare, merely includes notaries as a possible officiant of the marriage. It won’t be a case of simply going to notary to get married. A couple will still need to carry out the preliminary paperwork in Court or local registry office.

So, whether this takes another several months or years, it now seems largely irrelevant. The process will not be simplified or streamlined after all, and many expatriates seeking to marry in Tenerife are likely to continue to pop over to British Gibraltar for the ceremony. What a wasted opportunity when Spain, and particularly these islands, offers such a wonderful and desirable backdrop for that most “niche” of markets … wedding tourism.

Original post 31 October 2013: Spain’s Justice minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, has announced that the Spanish cabinet has approved today a modification to the Civil Code which will allow marriages to be celebrated in front of notaries at a cost of just €95. Notaries will also be able to process divorces, a measure which deputy PM Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said would free up the Courts. The package of measures includes the raising of the minimum age of marriage in Spain from 14 to 16. The reforms will come into force as soon as they are approved by Parliament.

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