Enforcement of divorce orders in Spain

A consent order issued by an English court ordering the division of property upon divorce may be enforced in, depending on the land registry (not all apply the same procedure) and on the terms of the consent order.

 

1. Exeqatur proceedings.

The position of the land registrars' governing body, the Directorate-General of Registrars and Notaries, in numerous resolutions (and most recently in its resolution of 20 June 2013) is that automatic recognition of English divorce judgments/decrees under the provisions of the EU Regulation 2201/2003 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters does not extend to the property consequences of the marriage or other ancillary matters. Thus, exequatur proceedings normally have to be brought to obtain the recognition of the consent order before the Spanish register will register the change of title to the property.

2. Exceptionally 

In some land registers, a consent order may be given direct effect and implemented by the land registrar (without the need for exequatur proceedings), but this is the exception rather than the rule.

In both these cases, apart from the question of the scope of application of EU Regulation 2201/2003, the consent order must constitute a "registrable" title, instrument or contract adjudicating or conveying an interest in real property as defined by Spanish land law (cf. an obligation to transfer will not suffice).   

3. Another alternative

Where the property is in the joint names of the husband and wife, is that the parties could execute a deed of severance of joint ownership before a notary and register the resulting title in the land register. 

Which of these options is the quickest and most cost effective way to transfer title in the property into the client's name therefore depends upon the wording of the consent order and the particular land registry in which the property is registered. The registrar will not register the transfer of title in the land register until property transfer tax (ITP) has been paid/declared.