Divorce and legal separation

Divorce and separation in Luxembourg

How does a divorce work in Luxembourg? What do you need to know if you want to start divorce proceedings or are the victim of a divorce application by your spouse? Here's all the information you need to know about divorce in Luxembourg

Key figures on divorce in Luxembourg

Luxembourg has a rate of 2.2 divorces per 1,000 people, compared with a European average of 1.7.

In 2021, nearly 1,400 divorces were granted in Luxembourg. The average duration of a marriage is 13 years. Half of all divorces are between couples of Luxembourg nationality. The average age of divorce for men is 44, compared with 41 for women.

Forms of divorce in Luxembourg

Luxembourg now recognizes only two types of divorce: divorce by mutual consent and divorce by irretrievable breakdown.

In June 2018, the Chamber of Deputies validated the abolition of divorce based on fault. The notion of fault remains, however, in order to determine certain causes and consequences of divorce.

The divorce decree dissolves the marriage between two spouses.

Divorce by mutual consent in Luxembourg

A couple who agree to break up their marriage can apply for a divorce by mutual consent. In this case, they must agree not only on the causes, but also on the consequences of the divorce. 

A couple can apply for divorce by mutual consent at any time, regardless of the length of the marriage or the age of the spouses.

Divorce by mutual consent

A request for divorce by mutual consent must be made jointly by both spouses to the family court. 

To apply to the family court judge for a divorce by mutual consent, the spouses must first draw up a divorce agreement by mutual consent. A court-appointed lawyer or notary can assist them in drawing up the agreement. However, this assistance is not mandatory.

Once the agreement has been drawn up, the spouses must submit it by petition to the clerk's office of the territorially competent district court.

Then, at a hearing with the spouses, the family court judge will verify the spouses' full and mutual consent to the divorce. Before granting the divorce, the judge will also check in the agreement that the interests of the children are well preserved, as well as those of both spouses individually .

If this is not the case, the judge may ask for a new version of the agreement. If the interests of the children are not preserved, or one of the spouses is disadvantaged, the judge may refuse to grant the divorce. The spouses may appeal, this time personally assisted by a lawyer.

Divorce agreement by mutual consent

The divorce agreement forms an integral part of the divorce decree, and is approved by the judge when the divorce is granted. Only the family court judge can modify the content of the divorce agreement, by petition.

The divorce agreement by mutual consent must contain the following elements:

  • The residence of each spouse until the divorce is finalized
  • Custody, accommodation and visitation arrangements for the couple's minor children until the divorce is finalized and thereafter.
  • Spouses' respective contributions to the maintenance and education of minor children
  • The amount of alimony to be paid by one spouse to the other.
  • Division of joint property, in connection with the marriage contract.

Divorce for irretrievable breakdown of marital relations

The abolition of divorce on grounds of fault has introduced a second form of divorce in Luxembourg: divorce on grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marital relations. 

In this context, domestic violence such as rape, physical violence or indecent assault has consequences for alimony and other matrimonial benefits jeopardized by divorce. Domestic violence can also lead to criminal convictions.

Procedure for divorce on grounds of irretrievable breakdown

One or both spouses, if they cannot agree on a divorce settlement, may file for divorce on grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marital relations.

This type of divorce will introduce a cooling-off period of no more than three months, renewable once.

Pending final settlement of the divorce, the family judge may, at the request of one of the spouses, take provisional measures. These apply to each of the spouses and to the minor children as regards residence, food, property, etc.

Divorce decree in Luxembourg

These provisional measures will cease with the final divorce decree, which will rule on the liquidation and division of the matrimonial property regime, i.e. persons, alimony, property, accommodation, child custody and visiting rights.

Only the family court judge can modify the measures established by the divorce decree.

Consequences of divorce in Luxembourg

Financial impact of divorce on spouses and joint children

Under Luxembourg law, divorce gives rise to a number of obligations. The former spouses have an obligation to help and assist each other. They must also provide for the maintenance and education of their joint children.

Pension claims between divorced spouses

A spouse who has interrupted his or her career or reduced his or her professional activity during the marriage may benefit from additional pension rights to be paid by the other spouse in order to reconstitute his or her pension rights.

Divorced spouse alimony

One of the spouses may have to pay alimony to the other, depending on his or her needs and ability to contribute. Alimony payments may be reviewed in the light of changing circumstances.

Alimony is paid for a maximum of the duration of the marriage. Alimony may also be paid in the form of a lump sum.

Custody of children when spouses separate

Parental authority for divorced parents

In principle, regardless of the divorce decree and except in special cases, each parent continues to have parental authority. Throughout the proceedings, and once the divorce decree has been pronounced, each parent must maintain a personal relationship with the child or children. Each parent must also ensure that the relationship with the other parent is respected.

Children's domicile and family home in the event of divorce

Luxembourg courts do not, in principle, recognize the principle of alternating custody of children. However, if the parents agree, and if the children's interests are protected, the judge may grant alternating residence to one parent and to the other.

When at least one of the children is under 12 years of age, the judge may award enjoyment of the family home to the spouse with whom the children usually reside. In this case, the beneficiary parent must pay an occupancy indemnity to the other parent. It should be noted that the right to the family home cannot exceed two years after the divorce decree.

Visiting and accommodation rights for non-custodial parents

Except for serious reasons, the non-custodial parent may exercise rights of access, accommodation and supervision. In other words, the non-custodial parent can see the child, receive him or her at home and provide for the child's upkeep and education.

In the event of failure to respect visiting rights, the defaulting parent must bear any mediation costs , and may ultimately lose family residence status, or even incur criminal penalties.

Contribution to the upbringing and maintenance of children in the event of divorce

Each parent is required to contribute to the upbringing and maintenance of the children. The judge sets the amount of this contribution in the light of each parent's ability to contribute and the child's needs. The amount of the contribution may be reviewed in the light of economic developments.

Division of joint property in a divorce decree

In the event of divorce, a notary divides up the joint property. In the event of a dispute between the parties, only a court judgment can settle the disagreement.

The right to remarry for divorced couples

Divorced couples have the right to remarry under civil law. This right to remarriage is guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

On the other hand, in the Christian religion, a divorced couple will not be able to remarry religiously if a previous religious marriage has been pronounced. Religious marriages cannot be undone. It must be annulled by application to the bishop's office.

Legal separation in Luxembourg

Legal separation, an alternative to divorce

Legal separation is an alternative to divorce. It allows the spouses to separate, without ending the marriage. They can then live separately.

However, certain duties and obligations of marriage remain, such as spousal support and fidelity.

Good to know: separated spouses can benefit from tax class 2 for a transitional period of three years.

Legal separation in Luxembourg

Spouses wishing to separate must file an application for legal separation before the district court.

After three years of separation, either spouse may apply to the district court for a divorce. The court then has the option of granting the divorce, if the other spouse does not agree to end the separation immediately.

Do you need a lawyer? Find the lawyer to defend you on the Luxembourg Bar website.

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