More marriages on the rocks in Spain after corona and quarantine requirement

by Lorraine Williamson
nederlandse orthopeed

After three years of declines, the number of divorces, legal separations and annulments of marriages in Spain increased by 13.2% in 2021 due to the effects of the corona virus.  

The Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE) published on Friday the statistics on annulments, separations and divorces for the year 2021. This shows there were 86,851 divorces (95.9% of the total), 3 674 separations (4.1%) and 57 annulments (0.1%).  

Compared to 2020, the number of divorces increased by 12.5%, the number of legal separations by 32.4% and the number of annulments by 42.5%. Meanwhile, the divorce rate was 1.9 per 1,000 inhabitants. In 2021, there were 1,672 same-sex divorces (1.9% of the total). Of these, 900 were men and 772 were women.  

Divorce after 16.5 years of marriage on average  

Data from the INE survey shows that the average duration of marriages until the date of dissolution was 16.5 years. This was slightly less than in 2020. For divorces, the duration was 16.3 years; for legal separations 20.6 years; and for annulments 14.8 years.  

32% of divorces took place after 20 years of marriage or more, and 19.9% between 5 and 9 years. However, in the case of legal separations 45.2% of marriages lasted 20 years or more. And 15.9 % between 10 and 14 years.  

78.8% of divorces were resolved by mutual agreement and 21.2% by amicable settlement. 87.9% of legal separations were resolved by mutual agreement, and 12.1% were resolved amicably.  

74.7% of divorces and 82.9% of legal separations were settled in less than six months. And, furthermore, the average duration of proceedings was 5 months, slightly less than in 2020. The average duration of separations (3.6 months) was shorter than that of divorces (5 months).  

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What do the statistics show?  

69.2% of separation or divorce petitions were filed by both spouses, 20% by the wife and 10.7% by the husband.  

The highest number of divorces and separations occurred in the age group 40-49 years, both for men and women. The average age for women was 45.6 and for men 48.  

The autonomous city of Ceuta registered the highest divorce rate per 1,000 inhabitants (2.4), while Castilla y León had the lowest rate (1.5). 

In 80.4% of the divorces of different sexes both spouses were of Spanish nationality. In 11.9% one spouse was a foreigner and in 7.7% both spouses did not have Spanish nationality.  

43.2% of dissolved marriages had no minor or economically dependent children; 45.2% had only minor children, 4.2% had only economically dependent adult children and 7.4% had both minor and adult economically dependent children.  


The custody of the minor children was awarded in 53.2% of divorce and separation cases. In 53.1% it was awarded to the mother, in 3.5% to the father, in 43.1% it was shared and in 0.3% it was awarded to other institutions or family members. Furthermore, in 57.5% of cases of divorce and legal separation maintenance was awarded; in 60.2% of cases it was paid to the father, in 3.7% to the mother and in 36.1% to both spouses.  

In the case of divorces and legal separations of same-sex spouses, custody measures were taken for minor children in 18.8% of cases. Of these, in 35.8% the custody was awarded to one of the two spouses and in 64.2% it was shared. In addition, maintenance was awarded in 19.3% of cases.  

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