31 March 2016

We are separating... What happens next?

Separation has a huge impact on your life, not just emotionally and practically, but also financially. What happens now to your accounts, insurance and loans? And what should be done about your property?

Do not wait too long to examine your banking affairs and take the necessary decisions. After all, it can take weeks, months or even longer for the administrative issues to be definitively settled. Inform your bank as soon as possible, and keep them up to date on how the situation develops. Sometimes the bank can only take action if your divorce is recorded in the registers of the registry office (e.g. the assignment of a new loan solely in your name).

Finding help

If you separate, it is essential that you obtain advice as soon as possible regarding the administrative and financial consequences of the separation. This can be done at the "wetswinkel" (legal aid centre), the Justice of the Peace Court (Justice de Paix/ Vredegerecht), Houses of Justice (Maisons de justice/ Justitiehuizen), the OCMW/CPAS, and sometimes via the municipality. You can also seek assistance from a notary or a lawyer.

How do you separate?

If you decide to separate, your rights and obligations will be determined by the way you live together and therefore the marriage laws, cohabitation laws or contract laws applicable to that status.

We will limit ourselves to a few situations and a couple of "general rules":

  • A marriage is dissolved by a judge in a court.
  • A legal cohabitation is dissolved without the intervention of a judge. All that is usually needed is for one or both partners to make a declaration at the municipal authorities.
  • In the case of non-formalized cohabitation with no cohabitation contract, in principle you are absolved from any formal obligations linked to separation.
  • For urgent temporary measures, married persons, legal or non-formalized cohabitants can turn to a justice of the peace or urgent application judge.
Making arrangements

Try to make as many arrangements together as possible regarding matters that need to be settled (house, children, accounts, debts, insurance etc.). However, do not let yourself be pressured by your ex-partner into doing or signing anything that you do not want to, or which does not seem right. Thoroughly consider what is best for you. If necessary, ask the advice of a third person (trusted person, bank, notary, lawyer, etc.).

You can of course always make an appointment to discuss your banking affairs with one of our employees. We advise you to prepare thoroughly for your appointment, for example by using our banking checklist when divorcing or separating (PDF). We have also compiled a list (PDF) of people and authorities which need to be informed about your new situation.