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Family Law : New reform of Divorce Law

On 1 November 2018, the long-awaited law reforming divorce and parental authority came into force in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, putting a definitive end to unconstitutional texts on family law by establishing joint parental authority as a principle. This law instituted the family court as the sole judge in family law disputes and at the same time abolished divorce on grounds of fault.

Since that date, the family court judge has had sole jurisdiction over all matters relating to family relationships, including separations of unmarried couples, divorces, issues of parental authority, visiting and accommodation rights, alimony, community liquidation, domestic violence and guardianship of minors, with the exception of matters falling within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court judge.

Divorce on grounds of fault has been abolished, giving way to divorce by mutual consent (which requires both spouses to agree on all the principles and consequences of divorce) and divorce on grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marital relations, either on the basis of a joint petition initiated by both parties (who agree on the very principle of divorce but not on all the effects) or on the basis of a unilateral petition by one spouse.

The legislator has simplified the procedures for litigants so that a single judge can hear their case, which is often sensitive because it is personal, and the divorce procedure can be speeded up. From now on, at the end of the first hearing before the family court judge, a party may obtain a date for the pronouncement of his or her divorce. In addition, and apart from a few exceptions, the hearings are oral and litigants attend the hearings, thereby bringing the courts closer to the parties.

The new texts also take account of changes in society and the sociological reality of separations, single-parent families and blended families by giving parents the option of establishing a day-to-day parenting mandate, giving a place to step-parents.

While simplifying and speeding up procedures is a step forward in this area, only time and case law will make it possible to establish precise definitions, particularly in terms of parental authority.

Do not hesitate to contact us for any further information regarding divorce and family law matters in Luxembourg.