Our firm advises and assists clients in organizing every legal aspect of their marriage, and offers solutions in the event of separation or divorce.
Getting married in Switzerland has many personal and financial consequences on name, on citizenship, on tax return (the incomes and assets of the two spouses are combined and declared in a joint tax return : the couple is taxed jointly for the entire tax year and not just from the date they got married) on inheritance (if you do not make a will or testamentary contract, the law decides who will inherit your possessions and assets and Swiss law provides that spouses are entitled to a minimum share of the estate. The creator of a will cannot deprive their spouse of their minimum share of the estate).
Consequences about housing are important as when married individuals live in a property belonging to one of the spouses, the property cannot be sold without the consent of both partners. Besides the spouses can only cancel the rental agreement on their family home with the consent of their partner, even when they are the sole signatory of the agreement. About children, parents may be aware that the husband of the child’s mother is the father unless proven otherwise. The parents also automatically have joint custody of the children.
Another important point is the duty to inform : each spouse has the right to demand information from the other concerning their income, assets and debts. Moreover, the spouses owe each other loyalty and support. By getting married, you agree to provide moral and financial support to your partner.
The matrimonial property regime of the spouses may be chosen when getting married or during marriage :
1. Ordinary property regime (participation in acquired property)
The ordinary property regime (participation in acquired property) applies to married couples who have not expressly arranged another type of regime. In this case, during the marriage the property of the spouses remains separate. Each spouse retain ownership of their own estate, i.e. the property which they contribute on marriage or which they personally inherit or receive as a gift during marriage, and manage their own estates separately.
The savings made during the marriage can be used and managed independently by each spouse but on dissolution of the matrimonial property regime (divorce, death or new marital property regime), the jointly acquired property is divided equally between the two spouses. Until proven otherwise, all assets of a spouse are deemed to be acquired property : to avoid all assets to be equally divided on dissolution of the matrimonial property regime, it is recommended to draw up an inventory of the relevants assets which are not supposed to be divided in the form of a public deed.
Besides individual property by operation of law, spouses may declare under a marital agreement acquired property to be individual property set aside for professional or business use. Furthermore, spouses may stipulate in a marital agreement that income from individual property does not qualify as acquired property.
Under this regime, the spouses are in principle only liable to pay their own debts with their own estate, unless the other spouse agreed to share the financial burden or the debt arises from every-day expenditure.
Upon dissolution of the property regime and liquidation, many rules apply (time of dissolution, taking back property and settling debts – participation in increased value, separation of acquired property and individual property, calculating the surplus of each spouse) in order to divide equally the jointly property. The claims are set off.
2. Community of property
A marriage agreement must be made if you want to have this type of marital regime. The marital property regime of community of property comprises the common property and the individual property of each spouse.
The joint estate includes the spouses assets and income, with the exception of objects classed as belonging to separate estates in the law or marriage contract. The joint estate is jointly managed by the spouses and divided equally between them when the marital property regime is dissolved.
The husband or wife are in principle only liable for the payment of their debts with half of the joint estate and their own separate estate. In certain cases one spouse may have to pay debts with the whole of the joint estate, for example when debts were contracted to pay for every-day expenses or when both parties agreed to take on the debts.
Where the individual property of a spouse or the common property has contributed to the acquisition, improvement or preservation of an asset belonging to another category of property, the provisions governing increased value in relation to participation in acquired property apply mutatis mutandis.
3. Separation of property
Under this regime, each spouse administer and enjoy the benefits of his or her own property and has power of disposal over it : there is no joint ownership of goods or liability for debts. No assets is divided up between the ex-husband and wife if the marriage ends. Separate estates / joint property can be listed by a marriage contract (certified by a notary).
Whatever matrimonial property regimes is adopted, it is dissolved when the spouses divorce or separate, or if one of the spouses dies, or when it is replaced by another marital property regime or when the marriage is annulled.
Swiss law provides that if a spouse cannot reasonably be expected to provide for his or her own maintenance, including an appropriate level of retirement provision, the other spouse must pay a suitable contribution. In deciding whether such a contribution is to be made and, if so, in what amount and for how long, the following factors in particular must be considered: the division of duties during the marriage; the duration of the marriage; the standard of living during the marriage; the age and health of the spouses; the income and assets of the spouses; the extent and duration of child care still required of the spouses; the vocational training and career prospects of the spouses and the likely cost of reintegration into working life ; expectancy of federal old age and survivor’s insurance benefits and of occupational or other private or state pensions, including the expected proceeds of any division of withdrawal benefits.
Our services include:
– Analysis of your patrimonial and legal situation and information on the consequences of a marriage (financial, estate, tax, moving to retirement, etc) according to each matrimonial property regime
– Marriage contract drafting
– Petition for divorce drafting (mutual consent or in case of divorce at the petition of one spouse)
– Management of separation and divorce procedures.
We rely on several experts in contract law, commercial law, property rights and private international law in order to offer its customers effective support when the situation presents foreign elements (marriage and / or properties abroad, etc.).