Healthplan Spain


Can I Lose My Spanish Residency If I Get Divorced? Expat Tips

Navigating the intricacies of residency requirements and legal obligations is essential for expatriates in Spain, and the community card stands as one of the most sought-after residency permits by individuals worldwide who embark on their new lives in Spain.

A significant number of these expatriates secure this permit by either entering into a civil partnership, "pareja de hecho" or marrying a Spanish or European Union citizen, allowing them to hold a valid work and residence permit for a five-year duration. Yet, as this residency status hinges on the legal union between the partners, it's natural to question what would happen should the civil partnership or marriage break down. Would divorce lead to the loss of Spanish residency is a pertinent concern for many.

This article serves as your comprehensive guide, addressing all the crucial aspects of maintaining your family member on an EU citizen visa in the event of divorce or the termination of your civil partnership.

We will give you the answers to the following questions:-

  • Will I lose my Spanish residency if I cancel my marriage or civil partnership?
  • What requirements do I need to keep the family member of an EU citizen after separation?
  • What is the legal process to avoid losing your residency status?

Will I lose my Spanish residency if I cancel my marriage or civil partnership?

The answer to this question is that you might not necessarily lose your residency status.

This is because when you apply for the family member of an EU citizen card, you are granted a five-year residence and work permit. If your marriage or legal partnership ends during this period, there are two possible outcomes to consider – each with its own implications for your ability to stay and work in the country.

  • First, if you meet certain criteria that we'll discuss in the next section, you won't lose your EU card. You can keep it for the full five years and renew it later without complications. These criteria mainly revolve around how long you've been living together with your partner.
  • However, if you don't meet these criteria, you'll need to transition from the EU system to the general immigration framework. This would mean changing to an initial residence and work permit. But here's the catch: in this scenario, If the divorce or termination of the legal partnership occurs within a year of its establishment, you won't be allowed to switch to a self-employed or employed work permit. This could raise suspicions that your marriage or civil partnership was for convenience rather than genuine reasons.

What requirements do I need to keep the family member of an EU citizen after separation?

Fortunately, according to the 240/2007 Royal Decree of Spanish Immigration law, there's a provision that allows you to retain your family member of an EU citizen residency status even if your marriage or domestic partnership comes to an end. To qualify, you need to fulfil two main prerequisites:

  • The marriage or civil partnership should have lasted for a minimum of 3 years.
  • Of these 3 years, at least 1 year must have been spent in Spain.

Meeting both these conditions is crucial. If you do, once the initial 5-year validity of your family member of an EU citizen card concludes, you'll have the opportunity to extend your residency and acquire a permanent residency card, valid for another 5 years, without its ties to the European citizen's status.

However, what if you don't meet these requirements? In these cases, there's still a chance to maintain your residency in Spain, though the process becomes more intricate. Exceptions are made for foreigners in the following scenarios:

  • If you have experienced abuse (and can substantiate your claim).
  • If you share a child and have custody of that child.
  • If you have a mutual child but lack custody, yet a court order permits visitation rights (and the child resides in Spain).

What is the legal process to avoid losing your community card?

If you want to keep your family member card and continue your stay in Spain after ending your relationship with the EU citizen, following the steps below is crucial.

Start by finalising the partnership or getting a divorce. Note that the legal tie remains until you receive an official notification confirming the cancellation.

Once both parties receive this notification, you have one month to inform the immigration office about your new status. Although the exact timeframe isn't specified in the immigration law, it's best to do this promptly, usually within a month.

However, it is important to be aware that your situation might be viewed differently, depending on your location in Spain.

If you've stopped living together for an extended period and are no longer registered at the same address (even if you have not cancelled the marriage or ‘pareja de hecho’), authorities might consider the relationship legally terminated. This could impact your ability to renew your residency. In short, if you're no longer living together and aren't registered at the same address, authorities might see it as a situation similar to a divorce, which could affect your residency continuation.