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Child Custody Advice - Families in Spain

September 10, 2017




Families of many different nationalities now live on the Spanish Costas, and in some cases one of the parents live in a different country. Setting up a stable and fixed pattern of visits for the non-custodial parent is always important, but it is particularly important when one of the family moves to, or lives in, another country.


The Spanish courts will recognise an agreement on custody, visiting rights and maintenance, provided it is in the child’s best interests and recognises the rights of both parents. There are guidelines for visits of every other weekend Friday to Sunday, four weeks in the summer, and alternate Easter, Christmas and birthdays. This is applied in the majority of cases unless there are good reasons for altering it. For example, if one parent lives and works in the UK they may prefer to have a week long visit each month.


If the parents cannot agree on custody and visits, either parent can apply to the Court of First Instance in the area where the children live. The application will have to be supported by evidence including Birth Certificates, Certificates of Empadronamiento from the Town Hall, School matriculation etc. The court will always look to make orders for the payment of maintenance based on level of income and outgoings. The protection of the family home for the children is given first priority, and an order will often be made granting occupation rights even if the property is not owned by the parent who has custody.


Currently, joint custody is the preferred situation and can be imposed on a couple by the Judge if requested by one of the parents, even if the other is not in agreement. In this situation, the Judge will order a Psychologist’s report to ascertain the family situation and parental capabilities before deciding on joint or sole custody. One thing that is always protected is the rights of Parental responsibility. This is the right to be involved in decisions about your child’s welfare, schooling, activities and future. A well-drafted agreement will reflect this and set up contact by telephone or skype, which can be particularly important if the families are in different regions or different countries.



For more information, contact De Cotta Law on or call for a confidential consultation: 952 527 014.




About the Author

Sandra is an Academic Barrister at De Cotta Law and has over 15 years experience working on all aspects of private international law and conflicts of laws.  Her passion has been to support families in all legal aspects, establishing a very strong Family department which takes on divorce cases, Hague Convention cases and in particular those sensitive cases when one parent wants to change their country of residence.


In 2001 Sandra was appointed Honorary Legal Adviser to the British Consul of Málaga.





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