While Spanish family law is not one of our primary areas of practice, we recognize that foreign business owners and investors may have unique situations that require the advice of a family lawyer or family law mediator. For example, if you own a business and are planning on getting married, should you consider a “separación de bienes” to protect your assets in case of a divorce? Will child custody affect who can legally inherit your property? Matters of family law advice can be delicate, but when they arise, the first step to an outcome that is satisfactory for all parties is contacting a professional working in Spanish family law.
Spanish family law advice on business assets during marriage and divorce
One aspect of Spanish family law that may be particularly relevant to business owners and expat investors is what happens to assets and income in the case of marriage or, heaven forbid, divorce. By default, if you do not file a “pacto” with a notary (similar to a pre-nuptial agreement) defining how each spouse’s assets and income will be shared or, during a divorce, partitioned, you will be entered into an economic arrangement known as “régimen de gananciales”. Under this arrangement, any income, profits or assets gained while married are considered to be shared equally, and are split 50-50 if the couple divorces.
Even if you do not foresee yourself getting divorced (and what newlyweds do?), it can be a prudent financial decision to protect business assets from exposure to the debts and financial problems of both spouses, and this can be achieved with a “separación de bienes” or separation of goods. A family lawyer or family law mediator can provide advice on how to execute this in a way that satisfies both partneres.
Spanish family law on how marriage and divorce affect taxes
Another aspect of your financial life that can be impacted by Spanish family law is taxes. Depending on your situation and that of your future or current spouse, you may have options to declare your income as a married couple and get a tax benefit as a result. Similarly, having legal custody of a child may entitle you to reduced taxes. It’s important to realize that the laws surrounding marriage and taxes vary from one autonomous community to another, so it’s a good idea to discuss your options with a legal or financial advisor.
Family lawyer or family law mediator in disputes of child custody and inheritance
Finally, you may want to seek family law advice if you aren’t sure what will happen to your business, property, and other assets when you die. Spain has laws requiring that a certain portion of the deceased’s estate go to the surviving spouse, another portion to surviving children, and so on. If you have an unusual family arrangement, it might be relevant to discuss this with a family lawyer or other attorney. For example, if you are living in an unmarried couple relationship that includes children who are not legally yours, they may be excluded from any inheritance unless you take action to become their legal guardians (if they are minors) or specifically name them in your will.