Divorce in Spain: How to calculate alimony

Judge gavel, coins and divorce symbols on the desk.

Calculating alimony is a hot topic surrounding divorce in Spain. Until recently, the amount of maintenance was at a judge’s discretion, a situation that has generated more contentious divorce proceedings and uncertainty about how much alimony a non-custodial parent would have to pay. 

In this light of this ambiguity, the General Council of the Judiciary has introduced new guidelines. They are based on tables similar to those used in other countries, such as Norway and the US, for example. As a result, it’s now relatively easy to calculate alimony in Spain. 

In this article, we look at how these calculations work and answer general questions about alimony. 

What is Meant by Alimony?

Alimony is child support, where a non-custodial parent is morally and legally responsible for financially supporting the children of a marriage following separation or divorce.

It can also be an obligation for payment from one spouse to another.

Until recently, calculations for the financial contribution have been at a judge’s discretion.  

However, child support in Spain has been growing in importance, leading to the General Council of the Judiciary drawing up guidelines for calculating maintenance payments.

The amount of maintenance awarded covers what is considered to be ordinary expenses, i.e. living costs, food, clothes, housing, schooling and medical requirements.  Note that extraordinary expenses, e.g. holidays, are dealt with separately.

What Age Does Child Maintenance Stop?

In Spain, the responsibility to continue with child support can remain even though the child has reached the age of 18. 

Payments must continue until the child has the means to support themselves. This may even be after further education and until they can find a job and be financially independent.

Read more about child maintenance after divorce in Spain 

How are Maintenance Payments Calculated?

If both parents cannot agree on the amount to be paid, the Court will make a ruling based on the financial resources of the parent whose responsibility it is to provide and the child’s needs.

Financial Resources and Needs of the Child

Before the General Council of the Judiciary drew up guidelines, there were no set criteria or specific reasoning which could be applied when looking at the financial resources of the parent responsible for the child support payment.

To calculate alimony in Spain, judges based their calculations based on several factors. For example, parental income, number of dependent children, the ongoing financial commitments of the parents, any special needs of the children and the region where they live.

Previously, Provincial Courts published guidelines to establish a minimum payment, otherwise known as the vital minimum (mínimo vital in Spanish), regardless of the economic resources the parent has at their disposal.

This has led to a higher proportion of hostile and contentious divorces and an increasing number of separations as parents cannot agree on the level of child maintenance that must be paid.

If you are going through difficult separation or divorce issues, you may find our comprehensive Guide to Family Law in Spain useful.

A Call for Change in Times of Crisis

As the hard-hitting economic crisis continues, specialists in family law in Spain have called for change to tackle the impact of divorce proceedings that drag on forever without reaching an agreement or lengthy periods of separation. They’ve also demanded the need to halt payment of child support where circumstances have changed.

For this reason, the General Council of the Judiciary has developed Statistical Tables of Alimony Pensions. This scaling system will be used by Judges and Courts throughout Spain and in family proceedings.

It should be noted that the tables are for guidance and prepared with the technical support of the National Institute of Statistics whilst being adjusted for individual cases. The tables include alimony guidelines for the following:

  • Nullity
  • Separation
  • Divorce
  • Custody
  • Alimony payments for extra-marital children
  • Precautionary measures in processes to determine parentage
  • Alimony help from close relatives.

The Statistical Tables of Alimony Pensions are similar to those previously used in the Family Courts of Malaga. They have also been used in other provinces by lawyers and judges.

Additional Revisions to Assist the Divorce Process

As a result of the guidelines, the parties in a divorce will now be able to ascertain alimony payments in advance of court proceedings. They will also know what criteria have been used to make a decision. 

In addition, the table will be updated when there is a change in the financial situation of the parties involved. In any event, the table gets an update every five years.

How to Calculate an Alimony Amount?

If you’re getting divorced in Spain, it may be useful to calculate how much alimony you may have to pay or receive. Use these tables with the corresponding number of children and income.

Do You Need Help With Divorce, Getting Child Maintenance Payments Or Other Family Issues?

Contact our expert team now for a no-obligation chat to find out how we can help you protect you and your child’s interests.

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