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Different marriage laws the consequences when purchasing a property

Published 24/06/2009

When purchasing a property, it is necesary to know not only your marital status, but also under which law you where married...  Here we explain why.

It is very important to know the marital status of a person when they purchase a property in Spain. If the person is married the law under which they are married determines they way in which they can purchase.

Every country adopts a national law governing marriage and this is automatically applied when a couple wed. If they opt for a different arrangement that is not the national or state law where the marriage takes place they most both sign a special contract.

In general terms there are two kinds of marriage law, shared assets and separation of assets. For those couples married under the shared assets law even if only one of them purchases a property the property is deemed to belong to both of them as it immediately forms part of the assets of the marriage.
Separation of assets signifies that either spouse can purchase individually and the assets do not belong to both. This is the national marriage law of the U.K. and Ireland but many other European countries, including Spain, apply the shared assets law.

Within some countries the law can vary if the regional government applies a different law to that of the nation. This occurs in some parts of Germany and here in Spain where the national law is shared assets but in the community of Cataluña, for example, it is separation of assets.

How do these different laws affect property purchase in Spain?

If a couple are married under the shared assets law and just one of them signs a purchase deed they automatically purchase the property in the name of their absent spouse and the property is registered at the Land Registry in the name of both. However, at the time of sale or mortgaging the property both spouses must give consent and sign the corresponding deeds as they are dealing with a joint asset of the marriage.

The marriage law of separation of assets is exactly the opposite allowing either one of the couple to purchase property and sign the title deed independently and the fact that they are married does not influence the proceedings.


María Wiedemann

María Wiedemann

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