Divorce

Divorce abroad

Foreign decisions on divorce or legal separation are normally recognised in Switzerland when handed down in the country of domicile or of habitual residence, or the state of nationality of one of the spouses, or if recognised in one of these countries (Federal Act on Private International Law (SR 291)).

Federal Act on Private International Law (SR 291) (de, fr, it)

To register a divorce pronounced abroad in the Swiss civil status register (Infostar), the originals of the following documents must be as a rule submitted to the Swiss representation with any necessary legalisation for forwarding to Switzerland:

  • divorce decree with the date on which it takes effect
  • decision concerning the parental authority of any children of the couple with the date when it takes effect
  • where applicable, changes of address of the divorced couple

These documents are intended to the competent civil status authority and will not be returned.

To keep the family registers accurate and up-to-date, Swiss authorities need to be informed about any changes in the civil status of Swiss citizens and dual nationals (birth, marriage, death and divorce).

In Switzerland the registration of this changes is based on various statutory provisions and has a tiered structure (communal / cantonal / federal) with clear areas of competence. The Registry Offices which are located in most communes, hold the following five registers:

  • Register of Births
  • Register of Deaths
  • Register of Marriages
  • Acknowledgement of Paternity Register
  • Family Register

The Family Register is held in the "commune of origin". Every Swiss national has the citizenship rights of a commune, known as the "place of origin" or "place of citizenship". This is usually the town or village which the family originally came from and descendants always assume the same place of origin, regardless of their place of birth or residence. This registry system enables a family tree to be traced back many years.

The role of the Swiss missions abroad is to report changes in the status of Swiss nationals which have taken place abroad to the relevant authorities in Switzerland so that they may be entered in the Family Register.

Swiss citizens are therefore asked to present the above mentioned documents to the relevant Swiss mission.

Required documents

Divorce registration (PDF, 374.1 kB)

Divorce in Switzerland

In the case of a divorce pronounced in Switzerland, persons registered with a Swiss representation abroad are under an obligation to report the change of civil status. This requires submitting the following documents (as hard copy or in electronic form) so that the register of the Swiss abroad can be updated:

  • photocopy of the divorce decree with the date on which it takes effect
  • photocopy of the decision concerning the parental authority of any children of the couple with the date when it takes effect
  • Where applicable changes of address of the divorced couple

There is no fee for the registration in question.