Effects of the 2010 Civil Code on Trends in Joint Physical Custody in Catalonia. A Comparison with the Rest of Spain

By Montserrat Solsona, Jeroen Spijker

This article examines whether the Catalan 2010 Civil Code affects trends in joint physical custody in Catalonia, and why joint physical custody more than doubled in Catalonia during 2007-2012, although not in other regions of Spain. It first summarizes the 2005 divorce reform in Spain and the 2010 Catalan Civil Code on joint physical custody. It then describes the patterns and characteristics of physical custody arrangements of minor children, as adjudicated by judges, based on micro data from the Spanish National Statistics Institute on “Decrees of separations, divorces and annulments” for the period 2007-2012 in both Catalonia and the rest of Spain. It concludes that the Catalan legislation partially explains these observed differences, not because it advocates joint physical custody per se, but because it encourages shared parenting through the use of two specific tools: clear criteria for determining the regime and form of child custody; and a parental plan. Both of these elements also have great potential for reducing gender inequality in the family sphere.


  • marriage breakdown
  • divorce
  • co-parenting
  • shared physical custody
  • demography
  • gender equity
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