06 September 2018

What happens after 1 September? The key changes in matrimonial law

In addition to the changes in the context of inheritance law and inheritance tax, the changes in matrimonial property law will also come into effect on 1 September 2018. Our wealth planners and legal experts describe the key changes.

Separation of property

With the changes to the law on matrimonial property, the new legislation aims to ensure more solidarity for partners married under the system of separation of property. For example, certain rules that already apply to a community of property system are from now on also possible in the separation of property system, such as the right to allocate the family home that the couple owns together. In addition, the possibility has been included in the law of adding an adjustments for gains clause to the system of separation of property.

In the system of separation of property, it is now possible to have a fairness correction made in court, if the dissolution of the system has unfair consequences for the partner requesting the correction.

However, the compensation can never exceed one-third of the net value of the combined gains at the time of the dissolution of the marriage and after deduction of the applicant’s own gains.

Divorce and gifts

From now on, not all gifts (between spouses) will automatically lapse in the event of divorce. This will only be the case for rights granted to the other partner on condition that he or she survives the giver, such as being the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, contractual inheritances and various marital benefits (residence clauses, clauses providing for a portion of an estate or inheritance to be set aside for one of the heirs, etc.).

Other gifts made between partners outside a marriage contract, however, always remain revocable, but therefore no longer automatically lapse in the event of divorce.

Scope of rules on concealment extended

The scope of the rules on concealment has been extended to include any undivided assets or assets subject to adjustment that exist between the spouses; the rules are therefore no longer confined to the joint assets. The possibility of repentance has also been included in the law, meaning that the penalty for concealment will not apply in the event of repentance, under the conditions laid down in the law.

The status (individually owned or joint) of certain assets and income/revenue has been clarified in the law.


With this new legislation, the Civil Code also provides protection for the spouse who has missed out on certain income that should be joint because the partner carries out his or her professional activities in a company whose shares belong to him or her.

In such a case, the share-owning spouse is liable to pay compensation into the joint assets for the net professional income that were not paid into the joint assets and could reasonably be expected to have been paid into them if the professional activities had not been carried out within a company.

Anticipatory contribution in the event of joint purchase of assets

It is now also possible for unmarried couples to explicitly include a declaration of anticipatory contribution when purchasing a property together, such as their home. The effect of this declaration is that if the partners subsequently marry, the property will automatically be part of their joint assets, including any debts relating to it, unless otherwise specified.

Read about the changes coming after 1 September in inheritance law and inheritance tax.



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