Matrimonial Property Regime in Switzerland

M. Strobel, Attorney
Experience shows that a lot of expatriate managers and other foreign employees make mistakes when their marriages end, because they do not know well enough – or not at all – the Swiss matrimonial property regime and also lack knowledge concerning the matrimonial property regime of their home countries.
Entering into a private separation agreement i.e. a separation agreement which has not been approved by a court without knowing the basics of such regimes can be highly detrimental.

The Swiss matrimonial property regime consists of the following three alternatives:

– Community of acquired gains;
– Community of property; and
– Separate property.

The English terms used differ sometimes depending on the author but those listed here are probably the ones used most.

When negotiating a private separation agreement the issue of the estate brought in by the spouses is often neglected, too.

All this can – if not properly handled in the separation phase – lead to unnecessary and often very tough discussions during the divorce process.

Despite the fact that it seems to be preferable to negotiate a private separation agreement and not to start legal proceedings from the beginning, it might well be worth to initiate a marriage protection procedure with the competent courts or to at least seek legal advice before entering into any specious private agreement. A marriage protection procedure is a fast procedure and the court has to investigate and clarify on its own motion figures and facts. Many courts even provide standard forms for such protection procedures which can easily be filled in by laymen.

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