Divorce and legal separation: what differences?

Verified 17 May 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

Tableau - Differences between divorce and legal separation


Body Separation

Marriage duties (fidelity, relief and assistance)

All obligations between ex-spouses disappear.

Marriage is dissolved.

Marriage duties are maintained, except the duty to cohabit.

The marriage is not dissolved.

Maintenance payments

Maintenance under the duty of care may be paid during divorce proceedings.

After the divorce, the duty to help no longer exists.

Maintenance under duty of care may be paid during and after the legal separation procedure.

Compensatory benefit

One of the ex-spouses may have a compensatory benefit.

Spouses cannot have a compensatory benefit.

Duty to cohabit

The duty of cohabitation no longer exists.

The duty of cohabitation no longer exists.

Liquidation of the scheme

Ex-spouses must liquidate their matrimonial property regime.

Married spouses under a community scheme must wind up the matrimonial property regime in order to adopt the separation of property regime.

Under this scheme, property purchased by only one of the spouses after legal separation is the personal property of the spouse. The property does not belong to the two spouses.

Preservation of the other spouse's name

Each ex-husband loses the use of his ex-husband's name.

However, a former spouse may be authorized to retain the name of the other spouse in his or her usual name.

Each spouse retains the use of the other's name, unless the judge or the legal separation agreement decides otherwise.


The ex-spouses are no longer heirs to each other.

The separated husband remains the heir of his husband. However, in the case of legal separation by mutual consent, the spouses may waive their inheritance rights in their agreement.


Ex-spouses can marry again.

The spouses cannot marry.

Civil partnerships

Ex-spouses can do without.

The spouses can't do without.

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