Switzerland: Divorce in the Covid era

SWITZERLAND – Getting a divorce or obtaining a legal separation via remote conference or by written request is now possible in Switzerland.

In mid-April, the Swiss Federal Council said that “courts and other authorities can hold and conduct hearings” either by video or audio conferencing for such purpose. While this is not new, Covid-19 confinement and social distancing measures have created a backlog of cases which still need addressing.

Third-party services can help speed the process especially when the parties are in agreement. The co-founder of one such platform, easydivorce.ch,  said to Swiss broadcaster RTS that there has been a 25% increase in the number of procedures carried out by his company since March.

Article 5 of the 16 April COVID-19 Justice and Law Ordinance, goes a step further in easing the procedure, including by skipping the teleconference altogether. Loosely translated it states:

“In the event that a conventional hearing, teleconference, or videoconference is not possible or cannot be imposed, should time be of the essence and no compelling reason exists against it, the court may exceptionally waive holding a (main) hearing, conducting instead the proceedings in writing .”

Separating can be a difficult proposition for anyone, but immigrants and expats in Switzerland can find the process even harder to navigate. Find further information and resources on the Swiss official information platform, www.ch.ch/en/divorce.

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