Separating or getting a divorce is a distressful experience wherever you are, but when you live abroad you face a whole new set of challenges as you have to navigate the local laws.
If you file for a joint divorce, you need to apply for the divorce at the court in your canton of residence. You must present a petition for the divorce as well as a written agreement as to how your belongings will be divided and how the children’s custody and maintenance costs will be divided. You do not need to disclose the reason for wanting a divorce.
If one partner does not agree to a divorce, it can only be granted if the couple have lived apart for a minimum of two years or under exceptional circumstances as in the case of proven physical abuse.
The court can also decide on the custody and maintenance costs if the couple fail to come to an agreement.
Once the divorce has been approved the court will contact your commune of residency and enter the change in status in the civil register.
If you are from an EU/EFTA state you can apply for your own residence permit after your divorce, provided you are employed or you have sufficient financial means to meet your living requirements in Switzerland.
Persons from non-EU/EFTA states: A divorced spouse’s or child’s existing residence permit may be extended provided the marriage lasted at least three years in Switzerland and the spouse/family lived together during that time, the persons concerned were successfully integrated, or important personal circumstances make it necessary to continue living in Switzerland (e.g. persecution in their home country).
If you have a settlement permit (permit C): Spouses and children over 12 years old who have come to Switzerland under the family reunification scheme obtain a settlement permit after five years of continuous residence in this country. They also have the right to settle in Switzerland following a divorce or after the spouse’s death.