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The married and unmarried couple

The married couple

When you decide to get married, it is important to know and define the legal framework of your union.

The matrimonial regime: choice, change and liquidation

You have the opportunity to choose, in particular, the matrimonial regime to which your property will be subject. There are 4 different ones:

  • The default joint property regime, which applies in the absence of a marriage contract;
  • The separation of assets regime;
  • The participation on acquired assets regime;
  • The universal shared property regime.

These contracts can be adjusted.

Prior to your wedding, we shall instruct and advise you on the implications of this choice which depends on your situation and which is essential since it determines how your property will be governed during the marriage and your rights regarding said property in the event of a divorce.

We shall advise you and accompany you in case of change or liquidation of your matrimonial regime.

The liquidation of your matrimonial regime consists in determining what will return to each spouse at the end of the divorce. It can intervene in an amicable setting or in the course of proceedings.

The divorce

During your divorce, whether it is on your initiative or imposed on you, it is, again, crucial to be well advised throughout this separation.

Divorce can be amicable; we then speak of “mutual consent”. This implies that both spouses agree on the very principle of divorce, but also on its consequences between them and with regards to children. Since 2017, each spouse must be assisted by a lawyer. The divorce settlement incorporating the terms of the agreements is drafted by the lawyers, signed by both parties and their lawyers and then recorded by a notary. We shall remain at your side throughout the entire process, from the negotiation of the agreement to the signature of the settlement.

When the spouses do not agree on the principle and/or consequences of their divorce, the procedure is contentious and is currently organised around two periods: the first period concerns the organisation of the spouses and children’s lives until the divorce is pronounced (the spouse who will continue to reside in the matrimonial home, the payment by one spouse of alimony to the other, the terms of residence of the children…). The second period concerns the organisation of the consequences of the divorce, in particular determining the amount of the compensatory allowance and potentially liquidating your matrimonial regime.

In the case where the spouses agree on the principle of divorce, but not on its consequences, the procedure is the same, but the debate in the second phase will only be concerned with the consequences.

This two-step procedure will be modified as of January 1st, 2020.

Divorce by mutual consent remains possible at any time during the procedure.

Whether in negotiations to reach an agreement or a contentious divorce, we shall accompany you throughout the entire divorce process, conscious of what is in your best interests.

Our specific expertise in this area allows us to analyse your situation in order to offer you the procedural solutions that are most in line with your interests and determine the financial consequences of your divorce (compensatory allowance and liquidation of your matrimonial regime).

The unmarried couple

The plurality in the forms of unions existing today leads couples to have a choice between three types of union: marriage, civil partnership (PACS) and concubinage.

While it is commonly accepted that marriage requires an important preparation in advance, you should not underestimate the legal consequences of other types of unions.

Civil partnership (PACS) is a contract between two people organising their life together. If the procedure of this union is very accessible since it is now possible to conclude a PACS before a Civil Registrar of the city hall of one’s place of residence, or in front of the notary, it is advisable to ensure a good understanding of the guiding principles and the legal consequences.

If no choice is expressed in the initial agreement, or in an amending agreement, the partners are subject to the separation of assets regime. On the other hand, if they wish to do so, they can choose to be subjected to the joint property regime. Choosing the most appropriate partnership regime, understanding the legal and tax issues is crucial and will facilitate your decision making in your future life, especially in the case of a separation. We shall bring the necessary elements to you attention in order to make this choice, which essentially depends on your personal situation.

At the time of the separation, if the partners have assets, they will need to liquidate their partnership regime amicably. In the event of a dispute between the partners, it will be necessary to refer the case to the Family Court, which will rule on the division of the property and possibly on the compensation of a partner related to the damages resulting from the breakdown of the partnership, or the reimbursement by the latter of any debts or obligations. Our Firm will accompany you on a daily basis in order to guide you through such proceedings.

As for concubinage, it refers to the situation of a couple who live together in a lasting and acknowledged way. On the surface, the legal implications of this union are difficult to apprehend since it is supposed to be characterised by freedom. However, many legal mechanisms come to bind the partners or on the contrary some need to be put in place in order to protect them. Finally, the intertwining of assets related to the community of life requires informed advice in case of separation, or for the sake of inheritance.

In both cases, the question of children will be treated according to the parent-child legal relationship, and regardless of the civil partnership or the state of concubinage.

We intend to provide a precise answer and quality support to any questions you may have, both in advance of your choice of union, as well as on a daily basis, and during a potential break-up.