When you get married in Spain, you can choose between Separate Property Marital Regimes (Separación de bienes), Community Property Regime (Gananciales), or the less common Shared Earnings Regime (Régimen de participación).
Community Property Regimes
These regimes are easy to understand. The most common in Spain is the Community Property Regime. According to it, the belongings acquired after the marriage are shared by the couple, while the previous properties continue being owned by the original owner.
Separate Property Marital Regimes
This regime is the most familiar for UK citizens. Each member of the couple is the owner of his or her properties no matter if they were acquired before or after the marriage.
Shared Earnings Regimes
This regime is like the Separate Property Marital Regime, but in case the couple get divorced, each member will also be the owner of 50 percent of the profits earned by their partner during the marriage.
In general, Separate Property Marital Regime is recommended, but traditionally only couples in which at least one member is freelancing or have businesses use it.
What is the regime by default in Spain?
Spain is a very decentralised country, and each region has its own regime by default. Most of the regions will use the Community Property Regime by default, although Catalonia, Baleares, and some others use the Separate Property Marital Regime. In all of them, the couple can choose at the time of the marriage or change it in the future for which they will need to visit a notary.
What does this mean for British residents?
If you are already married, you likely think this will not affect you in any way. But if you buy a property in Spain, it may affect you when dealing with the Spanish Property Registry.
If the buyer is married, the Registry could deny the registration of the sale of the property in the future if one member of the couple does not consent to the sale. This would not be a problem if you are married under the Separate Property Marital Regime and the property is yours. Therefore, the Registry official could ask for more paperwork to proof that you really are the only owner and your partner or former partner does not have the right to say anything about the transaction. This, of course, would and delay the transaction.
In order to do it, notaries usually recommend stating the marital regimes in the property deed at the time of the purchase. It is important to clarify that they just need to state it, but they do not need to prove it as it is decided in the Resolución de 19 de octubre de 2018, de la Dirección General de los Registros y del Notariado, en el recurso interpuesto contra la negativa del registrador de la propiedad de Madrid n.º 28 a inscribir una escritura de compraventa.
If you are going to buy a property in Spain, do not forget to mention that you are married and you want to state your marital status in the deed. The notary shall advise you according to your specific case and interest.