ON occasion we have been asked by clients whether it is possible for them to reclaim any money that they had spent in the purchase, renovation or improvement of a property owned by their husband, wife or habitual partner here in Spain in the case of divorce or separation.
The simple answer is YES.
It is not uncommon for this situation to arise when a couple (married or not) make the decision to live in a house that is registered in the name of one of them or their parents.
Assuming that they are a recognised couple it is likely that during the period of the marriage or partnership, some improvement works or upgrades to the home will have been undertaken that benefit the property and may have increased its value considerably, and that the cost of this work may have been paid for in whole or in part, by the spouse or partner who does not own the property.
Equally, it is not unusual for one of the partners to lend or otherwise assist financially the partner or spouse to purchase the property, (for example, to be able to purchase without the need for a bank loan or mortgage) but when the property is purchased it may only be registered in the name of one of them.
In the case of separation or divorce, according to the Spanish civil code, the ‘non-owner’ who can show that they have invested or paid money for the property that belongs to their partner, either at the time of purchase or acquisition, or when an improvement, or work, has been carried out will have the right to claim reimbursement for this money, in accordance with among others, articles 1358 and 1359, of the Spanish civil code that state:
When, in accordance with this Code, the asset is considered to be held exclusively or in common, regardless of the origin of the funds with which the acquisition is performed, the value paid and charged, respectively, to the community property or to exclusive property must be reimbursed, by refunding its amount updated at the time of the liquidation of the community.
The buildings, plantations and any other improvements made to the common property and to exclusive property shall have the nature corresponding to the property which they affect, without prejudice to the reimbursement of the satisfied value for them.
However, if the improvement made in private assets should be due to the investment of common funds or to the activity of either of the spouses, the community shall be owed the increase in the value experienced by the property as a result of the improvement, at the time of dissolution of community or disposal of the improved property.
Therefore, if you have made such payments or lent to your partner or spouse money for the renovation, improvement or purchase of a real estate property in Spain that is in his or her sole name and you are going through divorce proceedings or are separating, even though you do not have an ownership right in the property, you do have a right of reimbursement against your partner, for the return of the money paid by you. If you want legal advice on this matter, contact our law firm and we will help you.
The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.
Carlos Baos (Lawyer)
C/Diana 19, 2º D, 03700 Denia (Alicante) Spain
Tel. +34 966-426-185 Fax +34 965-784-471
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