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Family law: Divorce by unilateral request, how does it work?

    You wish to divorce, but your spouse is opposed to it? Then you will have to ask for a divorce by unilateral request. This article explains the steps of the procedure.

    The Civil Code stipulates that divorce by unilateral request can be requested under two conditions:

    1. The spouses were effectively separated for at least two years ;
    2. The spouse requesting the divorce presents serious reasons making marital life impossible. These grounds are infidelity, mental illness, violence, harassment and fictitious marriage.

    Divorce by unilateral petition is a long, costly and difficult procedure. Legal representation becomes necessary for both spouses.

    The administrative costs are a minimum of CHF 1000.- depending on the situation. In addition, there are legal fees, as well as the financial consequences of a separation. 


    How does a divorce by unilateral request take place?

    Step 1: The written application to the court of first instance.

    The spouse wishing to divorce must send a dated and signed written application to the court of first instance. This document states the facts, describes the situation of the couple and the reason for the divorce. The spouse must include a conclusion in which he or she explains the desired outcome. 

    Various documents must be attached to the application: the family and marriage certificate, certificates of salary and occupational benefits of the applicant spouse, as well as proof of separation or grounds for divorce. 

    We recommend that you hire a lawyer to draft this letter and gather your evidence. This will solidify your request and avoid future speculation. Your spouse will probably be armed with a lawyer, so don’t forget it!

    The judge will then ask the other spouse to formulate a response to the petition. 


    Step 2: The conciliation hearing.

    The spouses will then be summoned by the judge to a conciliation hearing. This serves to verify the reasons for the divorce and to deliver an agreement on the incidental effects of the procedure.

    The hearing makes it possible to establish emergency measures for the duration of the divorce, such as :

    – The pecuniary contribution to the spouses and children;

    – The allocation of family housing;

    – The right of custody of and access to minor children. 

    The spouses are represented by their lawyers at this summons. 

    Once the divorce judgment is rendered, it will be legally recognized 30 days later.


    Please note that if an agreement has been reached in the case of divorce by unilateral petition, the procedure will be transformed into a divorce by mutual consent. Lawrence explains everything about this method in this article.

    Divorce by unilateral petition is a cumbersome procedure for at least two years. It is legitimate to want to move on and not be “sued” by one’s former union. Contact one of Lawrence’s specialized lawyers, so that he can take care of your divorce and provide you with assistance and personalized representation.

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