Terry and I have been together for exactly 30 years this year. I have always said that we were “more married than many married people”. We owned and managed a business together for over 25 years, shared all bank accounts and investments and owned two properties jointly. We do not have children and in Canada, common law spouses with a Will, enjoy the same estate planning benefit as married couples. So, we never saw the need to actually get married, until now.
In Spain, common law spouses are not automatically recognized legally. You have to be officially registered as “Parejas de Hecho” which literally means “couples in fact”. It is essentially the equivalent to our common law spouse definition. There is a specific process which you can read here. https://www.juntadeandalucia.es/organismos/igualdadpoliticassocialesyconciliacion/areas/infancia-familias/parejas-hecho/paginas/faqs-parejas-hecho.html
It is very important for couples with assets to either be married or registered as Parejas de Hecho in Spain, otherwise the Estate Taxes on death are much greater. If you are not married or registered as common law, you are considered “friends” even if you have been common law spouses in your country for many years.
In Spain, there are four levels of relationships for Estate Taxes purposes. I have written a blog post of inheritance tax in Spain which you can read here. Essentially, there are exemptions for your spouse and children but not for “friends” or common law spouses. The taxes we would have had to pay if one of us would pass away, would have been significant. So we needed to get married or registered fast!
In our case, it was less complicated to simply get married in Canada. At first, it felt really funny to get married after being together for so many years but in the end, it felt just right to be celebrating our committed relationship.
We got married in Vancouver at Stanley Park by the Teahouse restaurant with 6 close friends On July 26, 2019 and it was a beautiful day in every way!! Here are some pictures of our special day which included our flower girl, Amy Lou!