You can file a joint application (also known as divorce by mutual consent) which includes:
A written petition (letter or pre-printed form) signed by both spouses stating you want to divorce. You do not need to explain your reasons for wanting a divorce.
A document specifying all the consequences of the divorce on which you have agreed (agreement on how to deal with the consequences of the divorce): liquidation of the marriage, distribution of the pension fund, child custody, maintenance payments, division of property, etc.
The court may also request other documents.
At the end of the procedure, the court grants the divorce and decides what the consequences will be for the two former spouses and the children. The court generally adopts the proposals made in the divorce agreement unless there are inconsistencies (if, for example, in haste, one spouse unwittingly gives up their pension claims acquired during the marriage) or if a provision is contrary to the interests of the children (if, for example, one spouse gives up their ex-spouse’s child support in order to have sole custody).
You can ask for a divorce even if your spouse does not agree, provided that you have lived separately for at least two years.
In exceptional cases, including domestic violence, you can also ask for a divorce before the two years have expired.
The court will inform you of the documents you need to submit. At the end of the procedure, the court grants the divorce and decides all the consequences, taking into account any points on which you and your spouse have been able to agree.
The duration of the divorce procedure varies. If you and your spouse agree on all the consequences of the divorce, the procedure generally takes three to four months. If, however, you are in dispute over one or more of the consequences of the divorce, the procedure can take up to several years.
The costs of a divorce include in particular the costs of the court (ranging from CHF 1,000 to CHF 4,000 depending on the canton) and the lawyer’s fees if you hire one (ranging from a few hundred francs to several thousand depending on the complexity of the proceedings).
If you are in financial difficulties, you can apply to the state for legal aid that is free of charge or partially free of charge. In this case, the state will cover all or part of the court and a lawyer if you need one.
For information and advice on filing for divorce and divorce proceedings, contact a lawyer or your legal protection insurance.
The websites below provide useful information on divorce:
Occupational benefits in the event of divorce – Guide for married couples and registered partners (available in German, French and Italian).
Federal Office of Justice: forms for written documents (available in German, French and Italian), including forms for a joint application for divorce, form for applying for legal aid, etc.