Once the divorce is pronounced, you may, at any time, contact the registry office of your place of residence (web page available in German, French and Italian) to change your surname back to the one you had before you were married. If you decide to do this, be sure to change your name in your official documents, in particular your passport, identity card and driving licence.
Please note: Your ex-spouse cannot force you to change your surname. The divorce has no effect on your children’s surnames.
Joint parental responsibility is also the rule if you get a divorce. The divorce court only grants sole parental authority to one parent if it is deemed necessary for the child’s sake.
Even if you have joint parental responsibility, this does not mean that you both also automatically have (alternate) custody of your children. To find out more about parental responsibility and child custody, see our page on parental responsibility.
One of the effects of divorce is the division of assets and debts between the two former spouses (also known as the dissolution of the marital property regime). The division of assets and debts depends on the marital property regime chosen on the day of the marriage.
The occupational pension assets accumulated during the marriage are also divided between the spouses (web page available in German, French and Italian).
Ask a lawyer or your OASI (AHV/AVS) compensation office (1st pillar) for more information on the settlement of the marital property regime and the division of your occupational pension assets (2nd pillar).
Maintenance payments for ex-spouse
After a divorce, the two ex-spouses must in principle each pay for their own maintenance.
However, depending on your age, the length of the marriage, the division of family duties during the marriage (e.g. if one of the two spouses stopped working to look after the children) and above all, the financial situation of both parties. One of the two may have to pay maintenance payments at least for some time.
You can agree directly with your ex-spouse on the amount of the payment. Otherwise, the court will decide.
Please note: if you remarry, you lose the right to maintenance payments.
Parents have the duty to support their children until they are of full age or have completed their education. Parents pay child support jointly, each to the extent of his or her ability.
The two ex-spouses can come to an agreement on maintenance payments. However, the final decision will be made by a court, which will take into account the needs of the children and the financial situation of each spouse.
If an ex-spouse does not pay the child support determined by the divorce court, you can contact a lawyer or ask your canton for help to force the ex-spouse to meet their obligations. Each canton has one or more specialised debt collection agencies that can help you recover the money owed to you. This help is free, at least as far as child support is concerned.
Under certain conditions, the cantons can also advance child support payments (in whole or in part). This is the case, for example, when the parent who has custody of the children has too low an income to support them alone.
Contact your commune of residence for information about the possibilities of obtaining an advance on maintenance payments and cash assistance in your canton.
If you have a C permit, you can stay in Switzerland even if you are divorced.
If you were granted a B permit for the purpose of family reunification, you may only stay in Switzerland under certain conditions. For more information, see our text on residence permits in Switzerland.
For more detailed information on the effects of divorce, contact a lawyer or the court responsible for divorce in your canton.
Useful information about the effects of divorce on occupational pension assets can also be found in the brochure on occupational pension provision in the event of a divorce for married or registered couples (available in German, French and Italian).