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Family Law in Belgium

Family Law in Belgium

Aspects governed by Family Law in Belgium

Legal personality, cohabitation, marriage, matrimonial, separation, divorce by mutual consent of  irremediable disunity, accommodation for children, visitation grandparents, filiation, alimony or family mediation are among the items governed by the Family Law in Belgium.

A persons domicile represents the address registered at the local commune, as well as the address where the government letters are sent in comparison to a habitual residence, that is the place where a personal actually lives, but it has to be proven with strong evidence, such as service providers or witnesses. 

Marriage and divorce, a main aspect of the Family Law in Belgium

Divorce in Belgium can be of two types, as described by family law: by mutual agreement or divorce by specific grounds. The first type is made with the manifestation of both spouses, but they both must be over 20 years old, and the marriage should have been contracted at least two years before the petition. As for the second type of divorce, is can be made if one of the spouses has violated the marriage obligations and it can be proven by the other spouse. Belgian legislation states that grounds for divorce ca be adultery, excesses, mental or physical abuse, or de facto separation. The legal effects of divorce are seen in personal relations, division of property, the obligation to pay maintenance to the other spouse and the spouses’ minor children.

As for marriage, Belgium is one of the few countries in the world that accepts gay marriage, a very important aspect of the family law. As with a straight marriage, it is required to register with the commune for a civil marriage ceremony before a judge. 

Alimony in Belgium

After divorce, if no prenuptial agreement exists, all common finances and common property are split equally between the two sides. However, finances inherited or obtained premarital remain with the original owner. 

If one of the spouses has a lower income that the other, the wealthier one can be obligated to pay a “maintenance fee”, but it cannot be higher than a third of the total income. However, if the spouse with the lower income is responsible for the divorce, the alimony may be refused.

When it comes to child maintenance fees, they are calculated according the the needs of the child, as well as to the income of each parent. The child maintenance fee must be paid until the child reaches 18 years old or when the studies are completed.

Cohabitation and inheritance laws in Belgium

Individuals living together can register legally according to family law in Belgium, and their individual property rights are not affected. Once registered as a cohabitant with a member of the European Union, the non-European Union citizen receives the legal residence status, and as such, it obtains the legal right to work in Belgium.

In regards to inheritance laws, they include assets, as well as debts of the deceased. In a situation in which debts are higher than the assets, once can reject the inheritance. 

Belgian family law states that immediate family members benefit from the inheritance, unless a legal will exists, and tax applies if the person is living in the country. If no legal will exists, children and grandchildren are on top of the list, followed by brothers and sisters. The Belgian state receives the inheritance if no close relatives exist.