Like most European countries, divorce laws in Switzerland are based around marital property regimes. The default regime is that property acquired during the marriage is shared equally, whilst each party retains the property which they owned before the marriage. The parties must also settle any debts which have arisen between themselves and with third parties.
Any difference between the two parties is a money claim – the court cannot transfer real estate, shares or other assets between the parties. Settlement can only be effected by payment of cash.
The parties can also elect, at the time of marriage, to enter a regime of community of property or a separate property regime. Under the former, the parties retain those assets in their own names and divide the remainder equally. If the latter, then no division of assets is required on divorce.
With regard to maintenance, the Swiss court will first decide whether the marriage should be classed as short or long. If the former, the maximum that can be expected is a short transitional pension. If longer, the court will consider the marital standard of living and the receiving spouse’s earning capacity – though it is important to note that parents will be expected to work part-time once a child is over ten years old, and full-time when any child is 16. The quantum of maintenance will be limited to the difference between that income capacity and the standard of living during the marriage. Generally speaking, maintenance will be limited to a term.
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