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What you need to know about getting a prenup in Spain

A prenup is typically an agreement made between a couple before they marry, stating each person’s rights to assets should the marriage fail, but what happens if you want to get one in Spain, how do you go about it and what do you need to know?

What you need to know about getting a prenup in Spain
What you need to know about prenups in Spain. Photo: thehkphotocompany / Unsplash

The latest data available from Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) shows that in 2021 there were 86,851 divorces, 12.5 percent ​​more than in the previous year. Joint custody was granted in 43.1 percent of the cases of divorce and separation of couples with children. 

Prenups are not as popular in Spain as they are in some countries such as the United States or Japan, but although are not expressly regulated in Spain, they have been recognised on several occasions by the courts.

What is a prenup?

A prenuptial agreement is a way of protecting financial wealth or indeed setting how assets should be divided, in the case that you decide to divorce later on down the line.

The agreements can prevent the courts from becoming involved and limit the need for lawyers too.

Article 90.2 of the Civil Code states: “There is no legal prohibition against prenuptial agreements and the emphasis must be placed on their limits, which are in the protection of the equality of the spouses and in the interest of minors, if any”.

It establishes that they will only be legal and be upheld if they are not harmful to minors or seriously harmful to one of the spouses.

Prenups in Spain are not only used for divorce however, they could be used in the event of separation, annulment of the marriage or death.

Who can sign a prenup in Spain?

You can only sign a prenup in Spain yourself, you can’t get someone else to do it for you. You must be of legal age which is 18, or 16 with judicial consent. You must also prove that you’re of sound mind.

People with incapacity can also sign a prenup, up to a certain extent. If authorised, they can ask for help from their parents, guardian or legal representative.

In Spain, a prenup can be signed before you marry or indeed at some point during your marriage and it can always be modified or changed, as long as both partners agree.

Be aware though, if you sign a prenup before you marry, it is only valid if you marry within one year.

Read Also: Civil union or marriage in Spain: which one is better?

What is included in a prenup?

The document can help you answer several questions ahead of time if the need arises, such as: who gets the car? How is the money you have in the bank going to be distributed? Are you responsible for each other’s debts?

There are different types of agreements available which include:  

  • Absolute Separation of Property: Each spouse separately retains ownership of all their property before and after the marriage.
  • Profit Sharing: Profits earned from the marriage are common property. In case of separation or divorce, property is shared equally.
  • Participation regime: Each spouse has the right to gain from the profits obtained by the other when the regime is in force.
  • In Spain (except in Catalonia) the marital property regime is applied by default when there are no prenup marriage agreements.

It is true that prenups typically regulate financial assets, but they can be used to regulate any part of a marriage.

They could be used to stipulate what will happen should one of the partners pass away or they might stipulate what each partner should do in case of a matrimonial crisis.

For example, they could be used to decide on the custody of children or where they will live. It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that the decision in the prenup regarding children may not always be upheld by a judge.

The custody decision will be based solely on the welfare and interests of the child, so if you signed a prenup to say you will get joint custody, but the judge believes it will be harmful if the child stays with the father for example, the ruling might be different.  

How is a prenuptial agreement drawn up in Spain?

To make a prenuptial agreement you should contact a lawyer specialising in family law and prenuptial agreements. They will advise you on the procedure and write it up for you. They will also:

  • Advise on the economic regimes of marriage provided by law and choose the one that best suits your needs.
  • Explain the consequences of the measures you include and their feasibility.
  • Ensure that the clauses reflect the agreements.
  • Check that none of the clauses conflicts with the law.

The prenuptial contract must be registered in the Civil Registry and must be signed before a notary. And in case of any clauses relating to real estate, any changes must also be communicated in the Mercantile or Property Registry.

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Spain is the second most expensive country in the world to get married

Getting married in Spain is now twice as expensive as it was a decade ago, but the spike in prices has done little to slow the post-pandemic rush to the altar.

Spain is the second most expensive country in the world to get married

Despite its reputation as one of Europe’s more affordable countries, Spain certainly isn’t a cheap place to get married.

In fact, according to data from Statistica, it’s the second most expensive place on the planet to tie the knot, following the United States. In Spain, the average wedding now costs almost €22,000, with many events costing as much as €30,000, depending on how extravagant the bride and groom are willing to go.

READ ALSO: The ultimate guide to Spanish wedding etiquette

According to figures from The Knot Worldwide’s ‘Essential Book of Weddings‘, the average price of a wedding in Spain has increased by around €1000 compared to 2019, reaching around €21,500.

Spain leads countries including France (where the average wedding costs €16,500), England (almost €18,000), Italy (third on the list with €21,000) and Canada (€20,500), despite all these countries surpassing Spain in almost all economic indicators, and especially in terms of average salary.

Yet Spaniards seem to have no problem splashing out on their wedding day.

In fact, according to’s ‘Wedding Price Index‘, Seville is the 4th most expensive location in the world to tie the knot, trailing only the exclusive Hamptons in the US, Positano in Italy, and Fogo Town in Canada. In the famously romantic Andalusian city, a wedding with 100 guests can cost a whopping €34,000.

Prices on the up

But the trend is much deeper than the recent inflationary shocks and goes back a decade. Ainara Regueira, a wedding planner, told Spanish outlet La Sexta that “ten years ago a wedding could cost between €10,000 and €12,000 and now it’s around €22,000”. 

And it seems that nowadays Spaniards want more extravagant weddings, with some events taking on a festival-like feel, rather than the traditional service and reception. “Now they want lights, lasers, [something] known as ‘crazy hour’,” Regueira says, adding that it’s almost more like “being at a party in Ibiza than at a wedding”. 

Lights and fireworks shows, drone camera footage, classic cars and costume changes, weddings in the social media age aren’t what they used to be, and are getting more and more expensive as a result. Roberta Orta from Infinita Viajes explained to La Sexta that some Spanish weddings have even become like concerts: “The bride and groom are looking for a DJ with a lot of street cred, and professional musicians…that can cost up to €30,000”. 

Post-pandemic boom

Despite the rise in costs, weddings are actually booming in Spain, particularly after the pandemic. After weddings were cancelled throughout 2020, in 2021 weddings in Spain increased by 60 percent compared to 2020, according to a recent INE report, and the boom has continued into 2022 and 2023.

READ ALSO: Civil union or marriage in Spain: which one is better?

Perhaps love is in the air. Perhaps the pandemic forced people into action. Perhaps people managed to save up enough money during the lockdowns to actually be able to afford a wedding.

Whatever the reason, and despite the recent surge in costs, in reality, expensive weddings are nothing new in Spain, and Spaniards have never been particularly frugal when it comes to celebrating. As you might have noticed when it comes to baptisms or first communions, the Spanish are not shy about going big for these events. Nor are they concerned about splashing the cash and making it a day to remember.

In fact, very few countries celebrate these milestones with such extravagance and decadence while simultaneously disregarding their own personal finances. Simply put, for Spaniards no cost is too much on their big day.

Cultural explanation?

Luis Ayuso Sánchez, professor of Sociology at the University of Granada, explained to El País that traditionally this extravagance comes from the importance of family in Spanish society. “When two people got married, their family network expands. That’s why it was important for the whole town to go to the wedding, for everyone to find out. It was a way to show society the support network.”

Generally speaking in Mediterranean countries, Ayuso adds, societies are more family-oriented than in northern Europe. “In Spain, the support network has been fundamental historically, because there was no welfare state, and that was replaced by the family. This is very much within our culture and to some extent, it is still maintained, as we have seen with the crisis, unemployment, covid… The family is still very important. Hence, the ritual of marriage, which symbolised relational support, remains strong in Spanish society.”

Inviting all those aunts and uncles and cousins is, of course, more expensive.

But the upward trend in weddings (their frequency that is, not the price) is likely a short-term trend. Looking at broader trends, marriage rates have been in near free fall since the 1990s, according to a study ‘The Evolution Of The Couple in Spain’ by the BBVA foundation.