Divorce in Switzerland - Support Offered by Our Swiss Attorneys

Divorce in Switzerland

Updated on Monday 08th January 2024

Rate this article

based on 2 reviews.

Divorce in Switzerland
Divorce in Switzerland is possible through amicable procedures, if the two former spouses agree on the terms of separation, or through court proceedings. Foreign citizens can also file for divorce under specific circumstances, which are explained below.
If you need assistance in divorce proceedings, no matter if by mutual agreement or not, you can rely on our lawyers in Switzerland.

The Swiss legislation about divorce procedures

According to Article 51 in the Statute on Private International Law, Swiss courts will rule in cases of divorce where one of the spouses are residents or domiciled in the country. Foreign citizens may also choose to divorce in Switzerland if the action cannot be pursued in their country of domicile. If a Swiss court will handle divorce proceedings, it will also handle all other matters arisen from the divorce: division of assets and maintenance. The Swiss legislation allows spouses to choose the law based on which the division of assets will be made or can enforce a prenuptial agreement, in case one exists. However, for a prenuptial agreement to be recognized, certain requirements imposed by the Swiss Civil Code must be fulfilled. The Swiss legislation allows for three types of divorce procedures: separation by mutual agreement, the legal separation and divorce.

Grounds for divorce in Switzerland

The law does not set out a specific set of grounds for which separation can be requested, however, the parties must motivate their decisions.
In Switzerland, a petition for a divorce can be filed by any of the spouses. The following 3 types of divorce petitions are accepted by Swiss courts:
  • joint petitions from both parties;
  • one spouse's petition for divorce following a period of separation;
  • one spouse's petition for divorce motivating that the marriage can no longer continue.
Couples need to explain why they are unable to upkeep the marriage. Only serious circumstances, such as abuse by a spouse, questionable or unfitted moral behaviour, or criminal action, will be allowed by the court.
Similar requirements apply to foreign citizens seeking to get divorced. No matter your nationality, if you want to apply for divorce, you can rely on our law firm in Switzerland.

Separation by mutual agreement and legal separation in Switzerland

Separation agreements in Switzerland are possible as long as spouses agree on the conditions of living separately. Separation agreements are exempt from appearing before a Swiss court. Separation agreements in Switzerland may be concluded in writing or by oral agreement, but oral agreements will not be recognized in court in case of litigation. The written separation agreement must contain provisions about:
  • child custody, in case spouses have children,
  • who will remain in the matrimonial home,
  • maintenance matters,
  • division of assets.
It is also recommended to have the separation agreement legalized by a Swiss notary. The legislation allows a spouse to apply for legal separation if the economic security of the family is endangered.

Divorce procedures in Switzerland

In case both spouses apply for divorce together, a Swiss court may consent to the petition immediately provided that an agreement regarding the division of property and child custody. However, it is recommended to ask the advice of a law firm in Switzerland before applying for divorce.
In case one of the spouse files for divorce in Switzerland, the divorce will be acknowledged after the spouses have lived apart for two years. The divorce case is usually tried within two months after the petition has been submitted. The documents to be provided in case of divorce in Switzerland are:
  • identification documents,
  • a family record document, if the marriage was registered in Switzerland,
  • a petition for divorce,
  • an agreement on the division of assets or prenuptial agreement if it exists,
  • information about incomes and properties,
  • information about children, if any.

Getting a divorce in Switzerland as a foreigner

Filing for a divorce in Switzerland as a foreigner implies for the alien spouse to have a residence permit. Also, the foreign partner must live in the country for a minimum period of time before filing the petition for marriage termination.
If the couple lived outside of Switzerland during the marriage or if the marriage lasted less than 3 years, it is possible for court to not consider such a claim. This is why, we recommend discussing with our attorneys in Switzerland about the steps you need to follow as a foreign citizen.

What happens if one of the spouses opposes termination?

If the spouses have lived apart for a minimum of 2 years, any of them has the right to file for divorce even if the other party disagrees. Prior to the 2 years having passed, one may also file for divorce in extraordinary circumstances, such as domestic abuse.
The documents the claimant must file can be listed by the court or one of our Swiss lawyers. Based on the evidence submitted, the court issues a decree of divorce.

Child custody and maintenance after divorce

What will happen to any children involved in the divorce procedure in Switzerland is one of the most important aspects to consider. According to the law, the children are the responsibility of both parents, but they can live with one of the parents only. Child support must be paid by the spouse who does not reside with the children.
In Switzerland, child maintenance payments must cover the parent's living expenses in addition to expenses like food and clothing for the child. This compensates for any lost income if a parent quits their job or works fewer hours to raise the minors.
We are also at your disposal with other services, such as support in opening a Swiss bank account for the payments made for child maintenance to be made separately.

Divorce statistics in Switzerland

Switzerland is a small country with a low divorce rate. However, according to recent data gathered by the Federal Statistics Office:
  • the number of divorces in Switzerland in 2020 was 16,210;
  • in 2021, the number was a little higher reaching 17,159.
For complete information about divorce proceedings or legal representation you may contact our lawyers in Switzerland. We are also at your disposal if you want to open a company in Switzerland.