5 What are the consequences of divorce/separation?

5.1. How is the property (rights in rem) divided?

In case of divorce, legal separation, etc. the spouses may conclude an agreement on the division of the joint property. In default thereof, each spouse shall as a general rule receive half of the existing joint property. Each spouse's portion of the property shall be calculated separately by establishing the total value of all assets under the joint property belonging to one spouse with deduction of his/her debts (excluding debts related to separate property). If a spouse's debts exceed his/her assets, the total value is determined as zero. In case the calculation shows that the portion of one spouse is bigger than that of the other spouse, the difference shall be adjusted. (Act on Division of Family Assets, §§ 53 and 58)

Pension rights, non-transferable rights, separate property, etc. (see 2.1.) shall not be subject to division. A spouse has the right to exclude from the joint property items exclusively used for his/her personal needs, as long as their value is not disproportionate considering the financial circumstances of the spouses. Items acquired for use by minor children can be excluded from the joint property by the spouse with whom the children live.

5.2. Who is liable for existing debts after the divorce/separation?

The rules on the financial liability of spouses described in question 2.6. are also applicable in case of division of property upon divorce, legal separation, etc.

If both spouses bear financial liability, then one spouse can demand that the other spouse pay his/her portion of the debt, which will ultimately become due, or that this spouse provide security for payment. (Act on Division of Family Assets, § 56)

5.3. Does one spouse have a claim to an equalisation payment?

In some situations a spouse may be entitled to a special compensation. This may be the case, amongst others:

  • If the other spouse neglected his/her financial situation, misused his/her power over the joint property or otherwise behaved irresponsibly and thereby significantly decreased his/her portion of the joint property.
  • If this spouse brought in the most significant portion of the joint property and the equal sharing would be clearly unreasonable, since the marriage only lasted for a short time and did not produce any significant joint financial result. Then it may be decided that each spouse receives as much of the joint property as would correspond to his/her contribution to the property at the time the marriage was entered into or during the marriage.
  • If the other spouse used means from the joint property to purchase or improve his/her separate property, etc.
  • If a spouse has separate property, it may be decided that he/she shall provide the other spouse with a certain amount to ensure that the latter is not put into unreasonable financial difficulties upon legal separation or divorce, provided the property circumstances of the marriage, its duration and other circumstances specifically speak for such a measure.

(Act on the Legal Effects of Marriage, § 23) (Act on Division of Family Assets, §§ 59, 61 and 67)