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Common-Law Partnerships In Spain - 'Pareja de Hecho'

- Updated: 25/02/2013
Common-Law Partnerships In Spain - 'Pareja de Hecho'

The concept of a 'Common Law' marriage, or relationship is still relatively recent by Spanish standards.

However, these days It is much more popular for couples to co-habit without the intention of even getting married - including same-sex couples - and under these circumstances many people choose to put their relationship on a more secure, practical and permanent footing.

In the English language this circumstance would be referred to as a 'common law partnership / marriage', however in Spain it would normally be called a 'Pareja de Hecha', and unlike in the UK, it should not be assumed that such arrangements will automatically be treated in the same way as officially recognised marriages, unless they have been registered with the authorities.

Another consideration, as with most legal matters in Spain, is that there are Regional variations both in how these laws are interpreted and applied, so this article should be considered a generic guide only, and a local Abogado should be called upon to advise anybody wishing to put their partnership on a more formal arrangement.

What is considered to be a 'Partnership' ?

The term 'Partnership' applies to a couple, same-sex or otherwise, who are stably living together - however, there is no given period of time before which they can be deemed a 'partnership'.

Documentary proof, such as being registered on the Padron together, having children together, or both being named together in any Libretto de Famila , will all help in this direction.

Better still, you can register your partnership with the Registro de Uniones de Hecho (De Facto Relationships Register Office) at the Registry Office in your local town. Certain conditions apply, such as you not being close relatives, both being mentally capeable, both being of a legal age, and both living together and locally to the register office.

What does this mean legally ?

The law in Spain currently does not automatically recognise a claim on property and assets between unmarried couples.

In the event of a parting of the ways, the party whose name is shown as being the legal owner of the asset retains complete ownership. The law does not make any allowance for the fact that one member of the couple may have been contributing significantly to these assets.

In cases when a property is gained after such a partnership is formed, the couple are deemed to jointly own the property, and - if the couple have children together - the children will remain in the property, while a court will decide which partner will be allowed to remain in the property with them.

Drawing up a cohabitation agreement can provide not only peace of mind, but security that there is a certain degree of legal protection for each partner should the relationship break down, or, more importantly upon death.

(As stated above, you should ensure that you speak to an experience and professionally qualified Lawyer who is familiar with the application of this Law in your Region, in order to arrange this)

Neither do such couples automatically inherit their partner’s property and assets upon death - unless there is a legally recognised Spanish Will in place which specifically dictates that the surviving partner should inherit certain property, instead of it being bequeathed directly to their family.

(Once again, an experienced and professionally qualified Lawyer can ensure that the correct Will is legally drawn up and filed with the registry in Madrid, which expressly carries out your wishes.

Entitlement to benefits after death

Co-Habiting couples are entitled to claim a widow’s pension, providing that there is proof of registration of cohabitation, and that the income of the surviving partner over the previous year did not exceed 50% of the combined income of the household. The benefit is also void upon (re)-marriage.

## Update ## A ruling by the Constitutional Court on 20/02/2013 found that Common Law "Parejas de Hecho" are eligible for death benefits although it is at this moment unclear when this will be brought into full effect in practice.

Comment on this Article

Are there any tax advantage for a couple with a paraja de hecho certified by the Generalitat Valenciana?
Ian Mulholland - Fri 24th Mar 2017
I am dealing with my fathers affairs following his death while in the UK. My father has lived in Spain for 10 years and has been living with his girlfriend for 7 years. I have been told that they have a Parja de Heco, but this is not confirmed. I am the executor on his will but do not know if this agreement is in place or wether this supercedes the UK will which was written in 1989, when he lived in the UK. . I am not aware of any new will. Will his girlfriend now have to deal with his affairs.
Amanda Hunt - Mon 6th Jun 2016
In the Uk , Common law marriage is not recognised.
Rita Rose - Thu 14th Apr 2016
I do not understand. For instance, my partner and I have a property on Spain but live in the U.K. We have Spanish wills. If my partner dies before me do I have to pay any special tax if the property is not sold ? and how do they claim the tax ? Thank you.
Joanna Koomen - Fri 31st Jul 2015
Just be aware that strictly speaking there is actually no such thing as "common law" in the UK, contrary to popular opinion! Partners have very few rights over property etc unless they can prove part ownership, contribution to bills etc. The whole concept is much more similar to Spain than most people realise. Women tend to be more often the losers here, though not exclusively, and everyone should seek specialist legal advice, whatever country you live in!
Karen Young - Sun 3rd May 2015
my long term partner and I moved to the Balearics last year. My partner has an S1medical form and I have been given an S1 form by the DWP as his partner, but the S/Security in Palma will not recognise us as we are not married and I now have to purchase very expensive healthcare insurance when the DWP were willing to pay this for the 1st year of our residency. Is this correct?
Sharron - Sun 3rd May 2015
Alan : latest news from the UK Embassy in Spain suggests as per following link, HERE
Tumbit - Admin - Fri 3rd Apr 2015
Alan : most larger Town Halls have a registrations department, which will be able to help you with this. You can easily do this yourself, or if your Spanish is not of good enough standard, any Lawyer or Abogado should be able to assist. Supporting document requirements include the Padron; Passports; NIEs and any other paperwork which may prove you are a couple (Mortgage; Bills; Libretto de Familiar etc...)
Tumbit - Admin - Fri 3rd Apr 2015
I would like to register for the agreement with my partner of many years, what documents are required and where can I do this I live on the Costa Blanca. Many thanks in advance. Alan
Alan - Wed 1st Apr 2015
Robbert : The first thing is whether or not the contract was officially listed with the “Registro de Uniones de Hecho” . If NOT then, in the eyes of the law no such agreement between you exisited. If it WAS listed, then an annulment is possible if you BOTH sign an agreement / contract to this effect, OR after a period of separation (the exact duration of time elapsed can vary from region to region).
Tumbit - Admin - Mon 23rd Mar 2015
Hello, Thank you for the information in this article. Can you give me some information to CANCEL this parejas de Hecho. My girlfriend is canadian and we split up. Hopefully you can provide me with the right information. Regards, Robbert Verdel
Robbert Verdel - Mon 23rd Mar 2015
Hello, my partner is living in Switzerland. He is married. His wife lives in Germany. They lived together only 2 days and now she doesn't want to divorce. In the meanwhile we want to build our life not waiting for the end of the thing. We want to move to Spain. Can we register Pareja de Hecho? Thanks, M.
Marketa - Mon 16th Feb 2015
Colleen : I can understand you both not wishing to have to take such a long trip unless absolutely necessary - and to be absolutely certain I would advise that you spoke to an Abogado or Notario, Many legal procedure can be undertaken on your behalf if you sign power of attorney. I believe that this is one such procedure, but you would be well advised to confirm this for certain.
Tumbit - Admin - Tue 6th May 2014
Please advise if both partners must be present in Spain to make the contract : We are South African citizens and will be living in Spain. I have bought a property entitling me to a "Residence Schengen Visa" and need my partner to be included. I am going to Spain next month to get the papers for the ownership of the apartment but my partner cannot go with me. I would like to know whether I can arrange to get a Parega de Hecho for us without her being present with me next month in Spain. The only other option is marriage in South Africa.
Colleen Wagner - Tue 6th May 2014
My husband & I were married on the beach in Kenya in '97 which has been recognised in the UK but when I tried to put him on my social security it was not legal. Can't get a Hague Appostille as it is Kenya. The Kenyan embassy in Madrid told me to send the certificate to ministry of foreign affairs Nairobi but they don't answer e-mails or have a correct tel no. Is the Parejo de Hecho a possible solution? We have 2 kids here & house & mortgage. My 2 objectives are my husbands health cover & if 1 of us dies.
Sam - Fri 23rd Aug 2013
Applying for a 'Common Law Marriage' certificate without a partner ? I think you might be missing the point, Muna
Tumbit - Admin - Fri 23rd Aug 2013
Hola I was living in Spain because my fiancé is in prison here and to make his life easy we made a 'pareja de hecho' but must now wait 1 year until we get the certification. My fiancé is now out of Prison in Spain and awaiting deportation to Norway because he comes from Norway. Could I continue my paraje de hecho without my fiancé, or can I cancel it ? {lease I need you advise very soon.
Muna - Fri 23rd Aug 2013
Hi, I am a South African citizen. My life partner of 16 years and the mother of our three daughters and British by birth has moved to Spain. She is employed by a UK based company and was transferred. How do I go about getting life partnership (Pareja De Hecho) my family are in the UK at the moment and was advised to go to a UE registra. Can you help in this matter. Kind regards
Ross Mcgill - Thu 4th Jul 2013
Hi; i am an English resident in Andalucia Spain and have been for 8 years. The past 7 years of the 8 i have been living together with my partner and my children from a previous marriage in a home which my partner purchased after 1 year of us living together in his batchelor pad. This property is not in my name, therefore I am a little confused as to where I stand if my partner dies before me or we split, he is spanish. I have contributed to the property in the form of putting money towards the monthly mortgage for a couple of years, and I look after the house ie clean etc. I have been told by my partner that upon his death all assets including the house will go directly to his sibling as both parents are deceiced. Please, if you could can you advise me where I stand. Thanks.
Claire - Fri 21st Jun 2013
Other than what you have stated you basically have 2 Options : Get a legal contract of Employment or Get Married !
S Shaw - Wed 15th May 2013
Hi. I'm a Canadian citizen and my bf is Catalan. We met in Australia and I currently hold a Youth Mobility Visa to live in Spain for 1yr. The visa is soon expiring and we were thinking of registering as Pareja de Hecho. Do you know if being pareja de hecho will allow me to stay in Spain longer? The only other option I have is to return to Canada for 3 months and then come back with a second yr Youth Mobility Visa. If pareja de hecho will allow me to live in Spain without a visa, that would make our lives a lot easier. Thanks
Diana - Wed 15th May 2013
I wish to bring my de facto partner with me from Hong Kong to Spain. Do they accept evidence of paraje de hecho from outside of Spain; joint tenancy, bank account and utility bills? I'm British (EU) and she is Filipina, and although she has Spanish ancestry, it isn't close enough to count for naturalisation. But then as a Filipina, she need only live in Spain 2 years anyway. Thanks for any advice.
Paul - Wed 3rd Apr 2013
Many Thanks Cat, useful to know. (Enjoying your Blogs at BTW...)
Tumbit - Admin - Sun 17th Mar 2013
I did 'Pareja de Hecho' with my partner before the law changed, making it legal for me to work as an American in the EU. It's worth mentioning that the rules are bent slightly for those in military or policial service, like my partner.
Cat Gaa - Sun 17th Mar 2013
Anne Marie : Our answer to your question remains the same as last time you asked it. Please see below.....
Tumbit - Admin - Thu 25th Oct 2012
I was with my partner for 15 years and we have a son together. My partner died in 2004, my son receives a pension, am I entightled to a pension ? I have a libro familia if this counts.
Anne Marie Purdew - Thu 25th Oct 2012
@Anne - Sorry to hear your news... We hope you will find our article on How to claim a widow or widowers pension in Spain useful, click here to read more...
Tumbit Admin - Thu 27th Sep 2012
I lived with my partner for 14 years when he died, leaving me with a son of 11 years - I have a libro familia, can I claim a pension................
Anne Marie - Wed 26th Sep 2012