Divorcing in Switzerland

1. How can we divorce in Switzerland and where?

In Switzerland, individuals can divorce by mutual agreement or, if one of the parties refuses to divorce, upon the request of the other spouse after a legal separation of at least two years.
The divorce procedure is an exclusive competence of the judge, even when children are not involved.
If the spouses accept the divorce by mutual agreement, they do not have to give any reasons for their decision and they only need to give their consent for the dissolution of the marriage. Under Swiss divorce law, the concept of fault of one of the spouses does not exist.

2. What are the most common reasons that spouses may invoke?

Before the legal terms of two years, divorce can be asked by one of the spouses against the other’s will only if the marriage cannot be continued. This is the case when violence or other similar serious grounds can be invoked.
After two years of legal separation, a divorce can be asked without any particular reason.

3. How long does it take to divorce in Switzerland?

A part from the legal term of two years in case of the opposition of one of the spouses, there is no fixed term for a divorce procedure. Usually, a divorce with a full mutual agreement can be presented and decided by the judge within a period between 30 and 60 days. A contentious procedure, however, may last up to many years.

4. What types of evidence can be used when divorcing?

The types of evidence that can be used when divorcing are any kind of proofs provided by the civil procedure code, that is documents, witnesses, cross-examinations, audio or video recordings, social worker reports, hearing children over six years old and psychological assessments. In any case, the hearing of the spouses and children over six years old by the judge are compulsory in order to divorce.

5. What other family life aspects are settled once with the divorce?

When divorcing, the Swiss judge compulsory has to state over all the ancillary aspects of the dissolution of marriage, in particular on the parental authority and custody over common children and all financial aspects, such as the liquidation of the spouses’ common assets, alimonies and social security aspects, such as the division of the public retirement’s benefits funds.

6. Is a lawyer presence necessary when divorcing?

A lawyer presence during a divorce procedure is not compulsory. However, in a contentious procedure where children’s issues or important financial aspects are involved, the presence of a lawyer is strongly suggested. The judge may also decide to appoint a lawyer to the spouses when such aspects are at stake and deems that the parties are not able to stand in court by themselves.

7. What kind of temporary measures concerning children can be ordered during divorce proceedings?

During a divorce, the judge can order any temporary measures in order to organize the spouses life as separated, such as temporary custody of the children or the attribution of the conjugal house for a spouse and children in his/her custody. The judge also grants right of access to children for the parent without custody. Alimonies can be temporary fixed as well until the final decision.

8. How can a parent living abroad keep in touch with his child?

A parent living in another state has the full right to keep in touch with his children who live in Switzerland, by visiting them at their residence, having the children over at their place during school holidays and by receiving phone calls and video-calls.

9. In case a parent lives in another EU State, is that an obstacle for joint custody?

A parent living in another EU State is usually an obstacle when applying for joint custody and normally leads in a denial of the judge.

10. How can a divorce resolution issued in Switzerland be acknowledged in another EU State?

Once the divorce resolution is final, the parties may request that the court decision is transcribed in their national register though their national embassies.

For questions you can contact one of our family law specialists,
Chiarella Rei-Ferrari or Riccardo Viganò @ Legal Ferrari Rei


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