Divorce for fault

Verified 28 July 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

If your husband's behavior is such that you can no longer maintain life for two, you can apply for a divorce for misconduct. The proceedings take place before the judge. Divorce shall be granted if there is a serious breach of the duties and obligations of marriage. We present you with the information you need to know.

You can file for divorce for fault if you have serious reproach to do to your husband.

What you're criticizing him for is a violation serious or renewed the rights and obligations of marriage that make it intolerable for couples to continue to live together.

Facts attributable to the other spouse

You must prove a fault committed by your husband.

Serious or renewed violation of the duties and obligations of marriage

The duties of marriage are fidelity, relief, assistance, respect. The obligations are contribution to the expenses of marriage and cohabitation. They shall continue to apply for the body in divorce.

Certain single, sufficiently serious events may lead to divorce (e.g. an act of violence).

Other facts, if they happen only once, do not justify divorce, but their repetition can have this consequence (e.g. repeated contemptuous or abusive behavior).

Intolerable maintenance of communal life

The facts committed no longer allow you to live together. They are left to the judge's discretion.

They must take place during the marriage (or during the divorce proceedings).

Certain pre-marital events may be considered (e.g., concealment of a mental impairment).

If the facts are old and you have lived in these conditions for many years, they do not make it intolerable to maintain a common life.

The behavior of one spouse may excuse the actions of the other (e.g. abandonment of the matrimonial home apologized when the wife fears for herself or her children the violence committed by her husband).

You can blame your husband for one or more faults. The judge freely assesses if he holds them all.


The duty of loyalty is one of the obligations of marriage. The husband who does not respect him commits adultery.

Adultery is one of the most common cases brought before the judge. The judge decides whether it should lead to divorce and if it must be pronounced to the exclusive wrongs of the offending spouse (a hidden connection, the cohabitation installation in plain sight...).

In the event that each person has rebuilt his life with another person, the judge may pronounce a divorce with mixed wrongs or reject the spouses of their application.

An adultery committed by each spouse is not at fault if the spouses have always heard each other live freely extramarital affairs.

The victim's spouse may apply to the judge for authorization by request to have a finding of adultery made by a commissioner of justice (ex-bailiff).


Even if the testimonies given do not establish adultery of your spouse, the facts may be held by the judge as wrongdoing if they show the abusive attitude of your spouse towards you.

Abandonment of marital home

The spouses shall oblige each other to a community of life. The residence of the family shall be chosen by mutual agreement. The cohabitation obligation is essential to marriage.

For professional reasons, spouses may see separate residences.

A spouse who leaves the matrimonial home without the authorization of the judge or his or her spouse is guilty of misconduct liable to lead to divorce.

Non-participation in marriage expenses

The fact that a spouse does not to contribute financially and to the extent of its possibilities to current expenditure of the household may constitute misconduct leading to divorce to its exclusive fault.


whena spouse does not contribute to the expenses of the marriageHowever, you can compel him to do so by referring the matter to the Family Court Judge. The judge determines the amount due by the defaulting spouse.

Failure to provide relief and assistance

Refusal toprovide care to her husband or the fact of remaining indifferent to his illness or hospitalization may lead to the divorce for misconduct.

Unfair, violent or abusive behavior

The conduct of a spouse may be regarded as wrongful in the event of:

  • Disloyalty : the fact that the wife enters into a pregnancy without her husband's knowledge or that a husband misleads her trust by withdrawing a checkbook without her knowledge 
  • Violence : humiliating blows or words 
  • Insult :: an authoritarian and contemptuous behavior or refusal to engage in sexual relations since the birth of a child

In matters of divorce, the evidence relates to by any means :

  • Confession
  • Letters exchanged between her husband and a third party
  • Findings of a Commissioner of Justice (former judicial officer)
  • Written attestations
  • Witnesses heard in the course of an inquiry ordered by the Family Court Judge

The judge may exclude from the proceedings any evidence that a spouse wishes to use if it was obtained by violence or fraud.


As long as they were not obtained by fraud or violence, a spouse may bring exchanges of correspondence before the judge. For example: text messages received on the business mobile phone, emails, letters, diary, logbook, etc.

Phone records

Telephone recordings are admissible evidence before the judge.

However, secretly recording a conversation in a private or public place, whether privately or confidentially, without the person's consent constitutes a invasion of privacy. Such evidence would be considered inadmissible because it was obtained by fraud.

You can apply to the judge, asking him, on request, to authorize a Commissioner of Justice (ex-bailiff) to proceed with the registration.

Finding of adultery

Adultery is proven by:

  • Of written : letters written or received by the spouse guilty of adultery, emails, text messages, photographs taken outside a private place without the knowledge of the persons concerned, hotel and/or travel invoices, etc.
  • Of testimonies : written statements prepared by family members or third parties who may have ascertained adultery or received confidences from the spouse guilty of adultery
  • One private inquiry : report of a private detective paid by the victim's spouse
  • One statement by a commissioner of justice (ex-bailiff)

In order to establish adultery, counsel for the plaintiff may make a motion to the President of the Judicial Tribunal. The judge then appoints a commissioner of justice with the task of establishing the finding with the assistance of a police commissioner.

Most often, the finding must be made in a third party. A finding that would be made at the request of the spouses without judicial authorization risks being excluded from the proceedings if there is a breach of domicile or an invasion of privacy.

However, judicial authorization is not necessary when adultery takes place in the spouse's home.


The finding of the Commissioner of Justice (former bailiff) is only valid as a mere information in civil matters (in criminal matters, it is valid until proven otherwise).

Testimonies and attestations

Children or grandchildren can never testify for or against their parents.

The prohibition is broad and absolute and applies to the children of the couple, the spouses or partners of the children, and the grandchildren. It concerns all children of spouses, whether they are common or not.

Gendarmes or stepdaughters cannot testify either.

In other cases, testimonies from the immediate family are allowed.

In order to be used in legal proceedings, the certificate must contain the following elements:

  • A description of the facts witnessed or observed by the author 
  • The surnames, forenames, date and place of birth, domicile and occupation of the person establishing it and, where appropriate, his relationship or subordination to the spouses
  • Clarification that the certificate is drawn up with a view to its production in court 
  • A statement that the attestant is aware that a false statement on his part exposes him to criminal sanctions

The certificate shall be in writing, dated and signed by the person who issued it and shall attach to him, in original or copy, an identity document.

Medical Certificates

In the case of violence committed by the husband against his family, proof of the injuries is made by medical certificate.

Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible (or at the nearest hospital emergency department) and ask them to attest what they saw during their visit.


These are statements made at the police station or gendarmerie brigade, recorded under a number in a police register.

They have no no legal value but may be invoked in divorce proceedings before the court as prima facie case.

A handrail can, for example, inform the judge about the departure from the marital home of one of the spouses.

You have to file for divorce for misconduct after you go to the judge.

You do not mention this reason at the beginning of the procedure in assignment in divorce.

The application must be made in your findings.


divorce may be sought for the exclusive harm of a spouse or for the shared harm of the spouses.


Each of the spouses duty take a lawyer.

The divorce proceedings shall take place before the Family Court Judge, who shall be seised by subpoena.

In the course of the procedure, if you find an agreement with your spouse, and if you wish, you can request to change the type of divorce (it's called a “bridge”).

You can switch to one of the following divorces:


if an application for divorce on grounds of misconduct and another application for permanent alteration of the marital relationship are filed at the same time, the judge first considers the application on grounds of misconduct. If the application for divorce is rejected on the grounds of fault, the court then rules on the application for divorce on grounds of permanent alteration of the marital relationship.

Declared divorce

The judge pronounces the divorce to the exclusive wrongs of a spouse if it is established that only one spouse has committed a fault.

If misconduct is brought against each of the two spouses, the divorce is pronounced shared harms.


At the request of the spouses, the judge may pronounce the divorce for misconduct without indicating the misconduct.

Cost of divorce

The cost varies depending on the lawyer's fees.

If you don't have enough resources to cover the costs of the divorce, you can benefit from legal aid.

The costs of the procedure (costs, attorneys' fees) may be charged to the offending spouse.

When the judge pronounces divorce for misconduct to the exclusive wrongs of a spouseHowever, this has consequences for the compensatory benefit and the allocation of damages.

Abolition of the compensatory benefit

The judge may refuse to grant the compensatory benefit requested by a spouse even if the breakdown of the marriage creates disparities in the respective living conditions.

Divorce for fault must be made to the exclusive wrongs of a spouse. The circumstances are assessed on a case-by-case basis by the judge.


The spouse who undergoes the divorce may ask the offending spouse for a compensation. There are two types of damages that can compensate for the harm suffered.

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Prejudice as a result of the dissolution of marriage

The spouse who is not at fault may claim damages before the judge. They are due to compensate for the consequences of particular gravity resulting from the dissolution of the marriage and where the divorce is pronounced to the exclusive wrongs.

In order to obtain compensation, the spouse must prove the existence of fault, specific damage linked to the break-up and a causal link between the two.

The application must be filed in connection with the divorce proceedings.

Such damage shall be different from mistakes, causes of divorce. It results from the dissolution of marriage alone and not from other circumstances.

Compensation shall be awarded in the form of payment of money.

Other damage

The spouse who has not committed a fault may also claim damages on the basis of the civil liability.

He has to prove a fault different from the break marriage, harm and a causal link between fault and harm.

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