British Expat Divorce in Belgium

Where to start

How we can help: Our firm advises British expats overseas and those expats with links to England on divorce and family law. 

This article sets out the applicable law and procedures for expats wishing to divorce in Belgium, including the approach to the division of assets and child arrangements.  

Video interview

In this video, Sophie Capo-Bianco, Senior Associate at Expatriate Law, interviews Belgian lawyer Ferenc Ballegeer of FB-Tax based in Brussels, Belgium.

Sophie asks Ferenc key questions for any foreign national thinking about divorce whilst based in Belgium. Ferenc provides a good overview of the legal process in Belgium and key points to consider.

Ferenc explains:
– the legal process around divorce in Belgium as a foreign national,
– considerations around division of assets,
– the approach to spousal maintenance in Belgium,
– and what you can typically expect around child arrangements.

Requirements for divorce in Belgium

British and Welsh expatriates can divorce in Belgium, provided the spouses live in Belgium. There is no minimum period of residency required to divorce in Belgium, rather the applicant’s habitual residence must be in Belgium. The divorce proceedings will be subject to Belgian Law.

Division of assets

The Courts will investigate which law is to be applied in relation to the division of assets, meaning it could be Belgian law or foreign law. In scenarios where foreign law applies, the Courts require guidance as to how it should be applied in order to decide how to proceed.

If Belgian law applies to pre-acquired and inherited assets, they are treated as separate to the marriage and not included within the marriage contract. However, the party claiming the spousal maintenance is required to prove ownership of the assets. If ownership cannot be proved, the law presumes that the assets are jointly owned. All income earned by the spouses is seen as a joint asset, as is the income from any pre-acquired or inherited assets.

Spousal Maintenance

If the claim is subject to Belgian law, spousal maintenance may be awarded. Usually, the parties agree on the exact amount within their settlement agreement. If this is not possible, a claim would be brought before the Court, and the maintenance amount awarded will be based on the needs of the claimant. The maximum time that spousal maintenance can be awarded for is the length of the marriage.

In some exceptional cases, a spousal maintenance claim will be rejected where domestic abuse has occurred, or other familial crimes. In these circumstances, the party in question must have been convicted of the crime, as otherwise they are presumed innocent.

Child Arrangements

In cases where both parties mutually consent to divorce, all child arrangements must be set out within the settlement agreement, and agreed between both parties before the divorce can proceed. Usually, the ex-spouses agree to joint custody of their child/children. The Family Tribunal may request changes to the custody agreement, based on the child’s interests and welfare.

In cases where the parties cannot agree their child arrangements, they may still proceed with a divorce but all claims will be brought before the Court who will decide on custody for the child involved.

When a party wishes to relocate their child following a divorce, the parties must both consent to this. If this is not possible, the Tribunal will make the decision based on the child’s welfare and interests.

If you’re a foreign national in England or a British expat based abroad and considering divorce through the English Courts, contact us for expert advice.

With many thanks to Ferenc Ballegeer. Ferenc specialises in tax law for private individuals, entrepreneurs and expats. He can be contacted directly via:

For more information and advice on international divorce in the Spain, your may find the below articles helpful:

Divorce in Belgium

Contact our experienced lawyers for confidential and clear advice on the issues detailed in the article.

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Divorce and Family Law

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