Making the decision to get married implies making other important decisions so as to define how the couple’s life together will be governed, and this also includes the economic area. It is important to always get professional advice from a lawyer before taking this step, so that both parties are clear about the implications of the union for their inheritance. In addition, specific agreements can be made on how the assets of both parties will be divided (with certain limits), through the so-called pre-nuptial or marriage contract. Today, I will analyze what marriage contracts are and how they work in Catalonia. Please, feel free to contact me without commitment if you need further help or advice.
What are marriage contracts? Why sign them?
In general, we say that marriage contracts are agreements concluded before, during the process of getting married or after it, in order to regulate the economic relations of the marriage or, in general, any other related provision, with certain limits. This procedure has become an essential tool for any marriage, especially if we talk about significant inheritance volumes. In this way, it is easy to foresee what consequences a possible separation or divorce would have, and how the inheritance will be managed in the couple.
Despite the popular perception, completing this process should not be conceived as something uncomfortable or the result of mistrust: it is about both parties being comfortable with the implications of the decision to start a life together. On the other hand, it is always better to negotiate matrimonial arrangements in a friendly way, rather than try to reach an agreement during a conflict; therefore, anticipating possible non-favourable situations in the future is always an intelligent decision. It is about reaching peace of mind and also avoiding economic quarrels that may hinder the relationship later.
Matrimonial agreements in Catalonia
Matrimonial agreements serve (though not exclusively) to establish the economic regime of a marriage. In the case of Catalonia, the matrimonial regime that is applied by default is that of property separation, contrary to what happens in practically all the rest of Spain, where the marital property regime is applied unless otherwise agreed. Beyond the choice of the economic regime, the agreement can be adapted to what the parties wish. For example, donations from the couple’s parents or pacts in anticipation of a marriage crisis may be included. These are the most usual cases, beyond the mere choice of the matrimonial regime:
– Liquidation agreements
It is about anticipating a possible break-up and signing agreements for liquidation or distribution of the marital property.
– Determination of whether a property is marital or private
It is a matter of clearly indicating if the property acquired or already in possession belongs to the couple or to only one of the parties, to avoid doubts in the future.
– Regulation of the shared custody of children.
It is about agreeing on the requirements according to which the custody would be arranged in favour of one or the other spouse, although it is not valid to agree in advance how the custody would be arranged. This decision will depend on the moment and will have to be taken or validated by a judge (depending on whether or not there is an agreement between the parties). What is appropriate is that, if the joint children are minors, the child’s interest prevails over any agreement reached, so that any previous agreement in this regard could remain ineffective if the judge considers so. All in all, it is still a very useful arrangement. If the judge considers that the custody system devised is not the one that best suits the children, it can be modified.
You may be interested: Shared custody in case of separation or divorce.
– Compensation allowance
A common agreement in case of separation or divorce is usually a compensation allowance for one of the spouses, as well as establishing the conditions for it to be received. It should be remembered that the compensation allowance is received by a spouse (from the other spouse) who, as a result of the separation or divorce, finds themselves in a situation of economic imbalance in relation to the position of the other, that is: the economic situation of that spouse has worsened significantly compared to what it was during the marriage.
How much do matrimonial agreements cost and how are they processed?
The cost of drafting a matrimonial agreement is around 60 euros, and the public deed is created before a notary, but it is necessary to have prior advice of a lawyer. In addition, you can change the marital regime as many times as you want, although the usual thing is not to perform changes of this type more than once.
It is important to know that only by making a public drafting of marriage agreements before a notary is it possible to change the economic regime. In addition, it can be done at any time, not necessarily during the wedding. If you didn’t decide to do it at first, there is always time to take the step further. Of course, it is imperative that both parties agree to perform the change.
It is important to bear in mind that if you sign your marriage agreement before marriage, this must be celebrated within one year after signing the public deed of agreement, and the chosen marital regime will come into effect after the marriage. If you don’t get married within that period, the agreement will remain without effect.