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1996 Hague Convention in Spain

1996 Hague Convention in Spain

On 1 January 2011, Spain brought into force the Hague Convention of 19 October 1996 dealing with competence, applicable law, recognition, enforcement and cooperation in matters of parental responsibility and child protection. This is an important development since the question of which country’s law should be applied to such issues has been something of a grey area in Spain.

Now there seems little doubt: when deciding matters of parental responsibility (which concept includes questions of residence and contact), Spanish law will be applicable in respect of children habitually resident in Spain.

In the past, Spanish judges have been required to apply a foreign law in respect of such issues regarding children not of Spanish nationality. Now, those same judges can resolve matters by applying their own – rather than a foreign – law. This should make cases involving foreign children easier to run in Spain (and, possibly, their outcome easier to predict). Nevertheless and despite this development, where a case involves such children’s issues as well as other matters (such as divorce or spousal maintenance, for example), Spanish judges may be left deciding certain of the issues in accordance with Spanish law and others in accordance with the law of the common nationality of the non-Spanish parents.