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Divorce law is one of most litigated areas in Switzerland.  

Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the ending of a marriage before the death of either spouse, which can be contrasted with an annulment, which is a declaration that a marriage is void, though the effects of marriage may be recognized in such unions, such as spousal support, child custody and distribution of property (see Art. 109 para. 2 Code Civil). For more information, please visit


A divorce must be certified by a court of law, as a legal action is needed to dissolve the prior legal act of marriage. The terms of the divorce are also determined by the court, though they may take into account prenuptial agreements, or simply ratify terms that the spouses have agreed on privately. Often, however, the spouses disagree about the terms of the divorce, which can lead to stressful litigation.


Prior to the revision of Swiss divorce law (entering into effect on January 1, 2000), a spouse seeking divorce had to show a cause such as irreconcible differences, cruelty, incurable mental illness, or adultery. Even in such cases, a divorce was barred in cases such as the suing spouse's procurement or connivance (contributing to the fault, such as by arranging for adultery), condonation (forgiving the fault either explicitly or by continuing to cohabit after knowing of it), or recrimination (the suing spouse also being guilty). 

Currenty, a divorce will be granted:

  • if both spouses require the divorce in a signed petition filed with the competent court (Art. 111 Code Civil); or
  • if a divorce petition is filed with the court after a period of two years since either spouse left the other spouse (Art. 114 Code Civil).