By Brenda Padilla
Divorce has been legal in Spain since shortly after the country became a democracy, but that doesn’t mean it ever became an easy path for a troubled marriage to take. In fact, even today, divorce is so expensive and such a legal hassle, that there are still unhappy couples who continue to co-exist under the same roof even though they would rather separate. This, however, is about to change.
The socialist government has approved a new divorce law that is now working it’s way through government chanels – and, certainly causing quite a stir in the Spanish catholic church. The original, divorce law, in fact, catered to the wishes of a post-franco era church that demanded divorce be kept as difficult to obtain as possible.
Until summer 2005, divorce in Spain will continue to be a drawn out process that requires two separate legal proceedings, one to separate – and that takes at least a year, and another to actually divorce, and that takes another year. Many are the divorcees that complain about the double set of legal fees involved. In addition, in order to obtain a divorce, one of those involved must be proven to be the guilty party – to somehow have failed the marriage, or to have left the home for a period of at least 6 months.
The new divorce law begins by wiping out the double legal process, thus making is possible for couples to head straight for divorce court. A legal separation is still possible, but only to those who wish to take that intermediary route for some reason. As long as both partners agree to the separation, and have been married for at least 3 months, they can obtain their divorce in just two months. If one of the partners does not agree to the divorce, then the divorce still must be granted – under the new law – but it will take up to six months.
Unlike the previous divorce law, the new law will not require any a couple to give any justification whatsoever in order to obtain the divorce. And this, according to many Spaniards, is one of the most attractive features of the new law.