31 March 2016

What happens to the family home in the case of divorce or separation?

Whether you are currently renting a property or paying off a mortgage on your home, you need to make important decisions about this too.

You are a tenant
You are married, legally cohabiting or have a non-formalized cohabitation arrangement:

Contact your landlord to:

  • have the rental agreement changed to the name of the person who is staying. The owner must of course agree to this.
  • Cancel the rental agreement (FR) if you are both leaving.

Note: as long as the end of the cohabitation or the divorce remains unrecorded in the registers of the registry office, you will both remain liable for the rent and the charges.

You are the owner

As there are many factors involved in the purchase of real estate, it is not possible to list every situation here. We will therefore limit ourselves to a few generalities. We advise you to contact your notary or lawyer to discuss your specific situation.

Did you have a non-formalized cohabitation arrangement?

Non-formalized cohabitation holds no specific status in terms of property rights. However, perhaps you established some aspects within a cohabitation contract, or there is a tontine clause included in the purchase deed of the property. Ask for advice from your notary, lawyer or bank. They are best placed to assist you in this situation.

Were you married or legally cohabiting?

Usually, neither of you can sell the family home without the permission of the other. However, this is not a general rule, so seek advice from your notary or lawyer so that you are not confronted with any unwelcome surprises.

The mortgage

If you took out a mortgage together to purchase the property, usually the basic principle applies that you both remain jointly and severally liable for it. If you or your ex does not pay, you can both face problems.

Seek advice and obtain as much information as possible so that you can make the best decisions.

Note: before the bank can adjust your mortgage, your divorce must be definitive. This also applies if you legally cohabit and then separate. It must therefore be recorded in the registers of your municipality's registry office.

Outstanding balance insurance

The possibilities and consequences for outstanding balance insurance are very diverse. We advise you to discuss these with the bank or insurer with whom you took out the outstanding balance insurance policy.


Did you receive premiums or other benefits when purchasing your property? Ask your notary or lawyer about the possible consequences if you sell.

Home and family insurance

Are you leaving the family home, is your ex moving out, or are you both leaving? Ensure that you remain well-protected and check your home and family insurance (third-party liability). If you require new insurance, you can run an online simulation to calculate the premium.

And now?