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Spain [1] [print]

Last edited: December 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

The Spanish Constitution references the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, writing that Spanish law is to be interpreted “according to the United Nation's Convention of the Rights of the Child of 20 Nov 1989.”  The constitution guarantees the  rights of minors according to the Convention as “the public entity shall conform its action to the present law and the mentioned international convention [on the Rights of the Child].”

       

In Spain, children are represented by longer-term tutelas (“tutors” or guardians) and case-specific defensores, who are attorneys that support the child's right to be heard and advocate for the child's interests.

       

Article 163 of the Civil Code sets up the role of the Commissioner for Children (Defensor del menor) who participates when the parents' interest is contrary to that of the dependent child on any point (contrary interests, themselves, are not defined in the Code). Articles 299 to 302 regulate the role of legal counsel (sometimes translated as Guardian Ad Litem), the Defensor Judicial, who represents and supports the interests of minors and when there is a conflict with their legal representatives, or their guardian does not fulfill his or her responsibilities for any reason.  The system has formed the basis for, for example, the Puerto Rican tutela and defensor system.

       

Article 9 of Organic Law 11/1996 on the legal protection of minors establishes the general right of the minor to be heard, both in the family situation and in any administrative or legal procedure in which he or she is directly involved and which may affect his personal, family or social situation.  Article 154 of the Civil Code enforces the right of minors to be heard before adopting decisions which affect them in protective and other proceedings, if they have reached a sufficient level of development.

       

Since Spain's system of law is not uniform across its autonomous regions it is important to distinguish between the Civil Code and the laws of regions such as Navarra, Aragon, and Catalonia.  Though the laws in certain autonomous regions occasionally employ different statues and language, there are no marked differences among the regulation of child protection, parental responsibility, and child representation in the different Spanish subsystems of law, with minor exceptions coming with certain Catalonian practices (e.g. A “Consejo de Tutela” or “Counsel of the Tutor” similar to the Spanish “Counsel of the Family”[2] is set up by the Catalonian Código de Familia 9/1998.)

 

Sources of Law

 

Original Text

 

International Law

 

Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño

Artículo 12

 

1. Los Estados Partes garantizarán al niño que esté en condiciones de formarse un juicio propio el derecho de expresar su opinión libremente en todos los asuntos que afectan al niño, teniéndose debidamente en cuenta las opiniones del niño, en función de la edad y madurez del niño.

2.  Con tal fin, se dará en particular al niño oportunidad de ser escuchado en todo procedimiento judicial o administrativo que afecte al niño, ya sea directamente o por medio de un representante o de un órgano apropiado, en consonancia con las normas de procedimiento de la ley nacional

 

Laws

 

Título Primero[3]

De los derechos de los menores

Capítulo II

Derechos del menor

 

Art. 3.º  Referencia a Instrumentos Internacionales.—

La presente Ley, sus normas de desarrollo y demás disposiciones legales relativas a las personas menores de edad, se interpretarán de conformidad con los Tratados Internacionales de los que España sea parte y, especialmente, de acuerdo con la Convención de los Derechos del Niño de Naciones Unidas de 20 de noviembre de 1989.

Los poderes públicos garantizarán el respeto de los derechos de los menores y adecuarán sus actuaciones a la presente Ley y la mencionada normativa internacional.

 

Art. 9.º Derecho a ser oído.—1. El menor tiene derecho a ser oído, tanto en el ámbito familiar como en cualquier procedimiento administrativo o judicial en que esté directamente implicado y que conduzca a una decisión que afecte a su esfera personal, familiar o social.

En los procedimientos judiciales, las comparecencias del menor se realizarán de forma adecuada a su situación y al desarrollo evolutivo de éste, cuidando preservar su intimidad.

2. Se garantizará que el menor pueda ejercitar este derecho por sí mismo o a través de la persona que diseñe para que le represente, cuando tenga suficiente juicio.

No obstante, cuando ello no sea posible o no convenga al interés del menor, podré conocerse su opinión por medio de sus representantes legales, siempre que no sean parte interesada ni tengan intereses contrapuestos a los del menor, o a través de otras personas que por su profesión o relación de especial confianza con él puedan transmitirla objetivamente.

3. Cuando el menor solicite ser oído directamente o por medio persona que le represente, la denegación de la audiencia será motivada y comunicada al Ministerio Fiscal y a aquéllos.

 

Titulo II: Actuaciones en situación de desprotección social del menor e instituciones de protección e instituciones de protección de menores.

 

Art. 19. Guarda de menores.-- Además de la guarda de los menores tutelados por encontrarse en situación de desamparo la entidad pública podrá asumir la guarda en los términos previstos en e artículo 172 del Código Civil, cuando los padres o tutores no puedan cuidar de un menor o cuando así lo acuerde el Juez en los casos en que legalmente proceda.

 

Título VII: De Las Relaciones Paterno filiales[4]

Capítulo V

Art. 154

1.  Los hijos no emancipados están bajo la potestad de sus progenitores.  La patria potestad se ejercerá siempre en beneficio de los hijos, de acuerdo con su personalidad, y comprende los siguientes deberes y facultades:
2. Representarlos y administrar sus bienes.  Si los hijos tuvieren suficiente juicio deberán ser oídos siempre antes de adoptar decisiones que les afecten.  Los padres podrán en el ejercicio de su potestad recabar el auxilio de la autoridad. Podrán también corregir razonable y moderadamente a los hijos.

Art. 162. Los padres que ostenten la patria potestad tienen la representación legal de sus hijos menores no emancipados.

           Se exceptúan:

1.      Aquellos en que exista condiciones de intereses entre los padres y el hijo.

 

Título X[5]

De la tutela, de la cúratela y de la guarda de los menores o incapacitados

 

Art. 215. La guarda y protección de la persona y bienes o solamente de la persona o de los bienes de los menores o incapacitados se realizará, en los casos que proceda, mediante:

           1º La tutela

           2º La cúratela

           3º El defensor judicial

 

Art. 216. Las funciones tutelares constituyen un deber, se ejercerán en beneficio del tutelado y estarán bajo la salvaguarda de la autoridad judicial.

           Las medidas y disposiciones previstas en el articulo 158 de este Código, podrán ser acordadas también por el Juez, de oficio o a instancia de cualquier interesado, en todos los supuestos de tutela o guarda, d hecho o de derecho, de menores e incapaces, en cuanto lo reuniera e interés de éstos.

 

Del ejercicio de la tutela

Art. 267. El tutor es el representante del menor o incapacitado, salvo para aquellos actos que pueda realizar por si sólo ya sea por disposición expresa de la Ley o de la sentencia de incapacitación.

 

Capítulo IV[6]

Del defensor judicial

 

Art. 299. Se nombrará un defensor judicial que represente y ampare los intereses de quienes su hallen en alguno de los siguientes supuestos:

           1º. Cuando en alguno asunto exista conflicto de intereses entre los menores o incapacitados y sus representantes legales o el curador.  En el caso de tutela conjunta ejercida por ambos padres, si el conflicto de intereses existiere sólo con uno ellos, corresponderá al otro por ley, y sin necesidad de especial nombramiento, representar y amparar al menor o incapacitado.

           2º. En el supuesto de que, por cualquier causa, el tutor o el curador no desempeñare sus funciones hasta que cese la causa determinante o se designe otra persona para desempeñar el cargo.

           3º. En todos los demás casos previstos en este Código.

 

Art. 299. Bis. Cuando se tenga conocimiento de que una persona debe ser sometida a tutela y en tanto no recaiga resolución judicial que ponga fin al procedimiento, asumirá su representación y defensa el Ministerio Fiscal. En tal case cuando además del cuidado de la persona hubiera de procederse al de los bienes, el Juez podrá designar un Administrador de los mismos, quien deberá rendirle cuentas de su gestión una vez concluida.

 

Art. 300. El Juez, en procedimiento de jurisdicción voluntaria, de oficio o a petición del Ministerio Fiscal, del propio menor o de cualquier persona capaz de comparecer en juicio, nombrará defensor a quien estime más idóneo para el cargo.

 

Art. 301. Serán aplicables al defensor judicial las causas de inhabilidad, excusas y remoción de los tutores y curadores.

 

Art. 302. Serán aplicable al defensor judicial las causas de inhabilidad, excusas y remoción de los tutores curadores.

 

Translation[7]

 

International Law

 

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 12[8]

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2.    For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Laws

 

Title One: Of the Rights of Children

Chapter II: Rights of the Child[9]

 

Art. 3. Reference to International Instruments--. . .The present law, its norms of development and other legal dispositions relative to minors, shall be interpreted according to the International Treaties of which Spain is a part and, especially, in accordance with the United Nation's

Convention of the Rights of the Child of 20 Nov 1989.  The public powers shall

guarantee the respect of the rights of minors and shall conform its actions

to the present law and the mentioned international convention. . .

 

Art. 9.° The right to be heard—1.  The minor has the right to be heard, as much in the family environment as in any administrative or judicial procedure in which he/she may be directly involved and which may relate to a decision that affects his/her personal, familiar or social sphere.

           In judicial proceedings, the wishes of the minor will be fulfilled in a manner that is fitting to the situation and to his development, taking care to preserve his privacy.

           2.  It is guaranteed that the minor may exercise this right for himself or through the person that he chooses to represent himself, when he has enough judgment.

           Nevertheless, when this is not possible or then it is not in the minor's best interest, it may be possible to learn the minor's opinion through his legal representatives, as long as they dot not have interests that conflict with the minors', or through other people that through their profession or special relationship with the minor can communicate the minors' needs objectively.

3.  When the minor wishes to be heard directly or through a representative, the denegacion of the audience shall be motivated and communicated to the state attorney's office.

 

Title VII: Of Parent-Child Relation

ChapterII: Of the Legal Representation of Children[10]

 

Art. 154.  Unemancipated children are under the authority of their parents.  The authority of parenthood is exercised always to benefit the children, in accordance with their personality, and with an understanding of the following rights:
2. Represent them, and administer to their welfare.  If the children have the judgment they shall always be heard before adopting decisions that affect them. . .

 

Art. 162. Parents that have parental authority also have the legal representation of their minor unemancipated children, subject to the following exceptions:

2.  Those in which there exists a conflict of interest between the parents and the child.

As amended by Law 11/1981 of May 13.

 

Art. 163. Whenever, in any matter, the father and the mother should have an interest opposed to that of their unemancipated children, an attorney (defensor) shall be appointed to represent the children in court proceedings and outside thereof.  This procedure shall also be observed when the parents have an interest opposed to that of an emancipated minor child whose capacity they must complete. 

           If the conflict of interest exists with respect to one of the parents only, the representation of the other parent by operation of law, without necessity of special appointment.

 

Title Ten: Of the Tutor, of the Curator and of the Judicial Attorney for Minors and the Incapacitated[11]

 

Art. 215.  The guardianship and protection of the person and/or property of the minor shall be realized through:

         1. The tutorship

2.     The curatorship

3.     The guardian ad litem/judicial attorney  (defensor judicial)

 

Art. 216. The tutorship functions constitute a duty.  They shall be exercised in the child's benefit and shall be safeguarded by judicial authority.

           The measures and dispositions listed in article 158 of this Code may be recalled by the court at the request of any interested person, in all matters of tutorship or guardianship as long as they are in the best interests of the minor or the handicapped person. [158, 3.: “ at the request of the child, any relative, or the state attorney's office, the court shall order: 3) In general, all other dispositions that it may deem appropriate to secure the minor from danger or to prevent him harm.)]

 

Of the Performance of the Tutorship

 

Art. 267. The tutor is the representative of the minor or handicapped person, except for those actions that they may realize for themselves. 

 

Of the Guardian ad litem (defensor judicial)[12]

 

Art. 299.  A guardian ad litem shall be appointed to represent and protect the interest of the persons in any of the following situations:

          1º When in any matter there should be a conflict of interest between the minors or interdicts and their legal representatives or curators. In cases of joint tutorship exercised by both parents, where the conflict of interest involves one of the parents only, the representation and protection of the minor interdict pertains to the other by operation of law, without the necessity of a special appointment.

          2º In the situation in which, for any reason, the tutor or curator fails to perform his functions, until the motivating cause ceases or another person is appointed to occupy the office.

          3º In all other cases provided in this Code.

 

Art. 299. Bis. When it is known that a person must be placed under tutorship, an pending the rendition of the judicial decree finalizing the proceedings, the state attorney's office of that person. In such a case, when besides caring for the person In such a case, when besides caring for the person it were also necessary to care for his property, the court may appoint an administrator of the same, who shall have the obligation to render to the court an account of his administration once it is concluded.

 

Art. 300. The court, in ex parte proceedings, by its own initiative, or at the request of the state attorney's office, the tutor, the curator, or any other person with the capacity to appear in judicial proceedings, shall appoint as attorney (defensor) the person that it deems most appropriate for the office.

 

As amended by Law 1/1996 of January 15

 

Art. 301. The causes for disqualification, excuses and removal of tutors and curators are applicable to the guardian ad litem (defensor judicial).

 

Art. 302. The guardian ad litem (defensor judicial) shall have the powers that the court may grant him, and shall be obligated to render to the court an account of his administration once it is concluded.

 

Local Contact Information

 

Dr. Cristina González Beilfuss

Facultat de Dret

Avda. Diagonal, 684

08034 Barcelona

Spain

+34 92 402 4421 (phone)

+34 93 402 4422 (fax)

cgonzalezb@ub.edu

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

Discussions of the role of the Tutor/Defensor Judicial/Curator:

http://www.mju.es/guia_tutela.html

http://www.iabogado.com/esp/guialegal/guialegal.cfm?IDCAPITULO=01050000

 

National Report on Parental Responsibilities: Spain:

http://www2.law.uu.nl/priv/cefl/Reports/pdf2/Spain.pdf

 

Report on Implementation of the European Social Charter:

http://www.coe.int/T/E/Human_Rights/Esc/3_Reporting_procedure/1_State_Reports/

click on “Spain”

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[3]Title 8 of the Civil Code of Spain, available at http://noticias.juridicas.com/base_datos/Privado/lo1-1996.t1.html, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[6]Chapter 4 of the Civil Code of Spain.

[7]Unofficial Translation by Cristina Novoa and Julian Darwall.

[8]G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989).

[9]Constitution of Spain Unofficial Translation, available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[10] Spanish Civil Code Title 8 Unofficial Translation, available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[11] Spanish Civil Code Title 10 Unoffical Translation, available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[12]Spanish Civil Code Chapter Four, available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

 

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