civil suit in a Spanish court
My mother, brother and I are being sued by our half sister in a civil court in Madrid, Spain. The half sister is petitioning the Spanish court to recognize her as my deceased father's daughter. If she wins her petition she will try to claim an inheritance as a natural blood relative of my father. We are all U.S. citizens living in Florida and have absolutely no business, financial or other non family interests in Spain. The half sister is a citizen of Spain (born there) and has resided there all her life.
The petition documents state we have twenty working days to respond, if not we can be held in contempt of court. This not only seems unreasonable but frankly kind of ridiculous that we would only have twenty days to find a lawyer in Spain and prepare a legal response. The documents were sent through The State Dept Office of the Legal Adviser.
I have several questions: I know a Spanish civil court has no jurisdiction over our family in the U.S. Can we just ignore this petition/lawsuit? If we ignore it, does she win a default judgment in the Spanish court? If she wins her petition in Spain, will she also have to file a civil suit in the U.S.?
If so, is there a statute of limitations of claiming an inheritance?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: civil suit in a Spanish court
I am not a Spanish attorney, but it is generally unwise to allow a court anywhere to issue a judgment adverse to your interests. I do not know enough facts to advise you, but you should consult with attorneys in both jurisdictions to determine your vulnerability to a Spanish judgment. I could only handle the FL side, but I have lived in Spain, speak Spanish and could assist you in finding an attorney in Madrid.