The breakdown of the unmarried partnership

Concept of the breakdown of unmarried partnerships

A "de facto union" is a union formed on a lasting and stable basis by two people (regardless of their sexual orientation), with sufficient capacity and without a marriage bond, who, regardless of their sex and developing a life in common, spontaneously and voluntarily fulfil duties of reciprocal responsibility and solidarity.

Breakdown of the unmarried partnership

Case law is clear when it comes to not completely equating the situation of unmarried couples with marriage, as they are completely different legal figures, since cohabitants are free to marry or not to marry, and if they marry, they assume a series of burdens and obligations, but also receive certain advantages or benefits; and if they do not marry, they are free of those burdens and obligations but, for the same reason, they cannot enjoy the advantages or benefits that are implicit in that situation.

After the breakdown of the de facto union, if there are children, the set of rights and obligations that make up parental authority, the ownership of which corresponds to both parents, remains the same. However, the cessation of cohabitation makes it necessary to modify the exercise of some of the rights and duties of the parents.


When a common-law couple decides to put an end to their relationship, the question arises, in most cases, as to how to proceed since it is neither a divorce nor a separation since the parties are not married but there are children in common or jointly acquired assets.

The procedure to follow would be similar to that established in the case of a separation or divorce, with the particularity that when unmarried couples decide to put an end to their cohabitation, only the regulation of the paternal-filial relations, that is to say, those existing between parents and children, will be dealt with before the Family Courts.

In this way, the most advisable thing to do is for the parties to reach an agreement that would be set out in a regulatory agreement that must be approved by the judicial authority. To do so, a lawsuit will have to be filed to establish mutually agreed parental-children measures.

The Regulatory Agreement will have to determine the custody and guardianship of the children, the alimony, visitation regime, communication regime...

In our "DOCUMENTS" section you will find a model of a regulatory agreement for paternal-filial relations.

Only if it is not possible to reach such an agreement, it will be necessary to resort to litigation and file a lawsuit requesting the other party to establish the necessary measures in relation to the children born in the relationship.

At G. Elías y Muñoz Abogados, we have family lawyers in Madrid specialists dedicated exclusively to the practice of Family Law who will provide you with comprehensive advice on everything related to the breakdown of common law unions, informing you of all the rights and obligations that correspond to you and advising you on the most appropriate way to proceed in each case.

You can make an appointment at any of our offices in Madrid, Majadahonda or Pozuelo de Alarcón or if you prefer, you can speak to one of our lawyers specialising in Family Law by calling 91.571.17.87 from 9am to 2pm and from 4pm to 8pm, who will advise you on the steps to follow in your specific case.

If you wish, in addition to being attended in our Law Firm in Madrid, we offer you the possibility of our Lawyers attending you in our offices in Pozuelo de Alarcón and Majadahonda.

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