Family law: I’m getting married, which matrimonial property regime should I choose? 

Are you getting married soon and want to know what matrimonial property regime to adopt? And how to share your assets as future spouses? It is important to ask these questions and above all to take the time to make the right choice. 

In Switzerland, there are three matrimonial property regimes: 

  1. Contribution to jointly acquired property 

Is the most common regime. It is automatically attributed to any married couple, except upon presentation of a marriage contract announcing another matrimonial regime. 

The assets of the spouses acquired before marriage remain separate, they are called “own property”. These assets include inheritance, personal gifts or investments made before marriage. 

Property acquired during the marriage is common to the spouses and is referred to as “jointly acquired property”. It includes income, interest, third pillar contributions and are used and managed jointly during the union. 

At the dissolution of the matrimonial property regime (in the event of divorce, death of the spouse or change of matrimonial regime), the jointly acquired property is equally divided (half and half) between the spouses. 

Individual debts are the sole responsibility of each spouse. Thus, a debt of “own” property, acquired or received before the marriage, will remain individual to the spouse to whom the property falls due. 

The contribution to jointly acquired property is a matrimonial property regime recommended to ensure equal treatment between the two spouses after dissolution of the marriage. 

 

  1. Joint estates

A joint estates regime is only established in a marriage contract drawn up by a notary. 

In this matrimonial regime, three types of property can be distinguished: 

  • The wife’s own property 
  • The husband’s own property 
  • The couple’s joint property

Own property includes items considered personal by law, as well as those expressly stated in the marriage contract (clothing, personal valuables such as jewelry, watches, if expressly stated in the contract).

Joint property includes the couple’s income and the spouses manage it together. 

If the matrimonial regime is dissolved, the joint property is distributed according to the wishes of the spouses, or as agreed in the contract. 

Debts are managed in two ways in a joint estates regime: 

  • Each spouse is liable for his or her individual debts and half of the debts common to the couple; 
  • Each spouse is liable for his or her individual debts and for all debts common to the couple (if the spouse cannot pay his or her share). 

 

  1. Separate estates 

A separate estates matrimonial regime consists only of property of one’s own. Each spouse manages them alone, as well as his or her debts. In the event of the dissolution of a matrimonial regime, there is no division of property, because there is no common property. 

This regime is particularly appreciated for its simplicity, especially since ownership is clearly defined in the marriage contract. 

If you do not opt for any particular matrimonial regime, the regime of contribution to jointly acquired property will automatically be imposed on you by law. 

However, if you are considering adopting a matrimonial property regime without it being imposed on you by law, we recommend that you contact a lawyer or a notary to draw up your marriage contract. You will thus be sure of the distribution of your property and can peacefully begin your union! 

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