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21% fewer marriage contracts signed in 2020

Credit: Luis Tosta/ Unsplash

The number of couples getting married fell in 2020 by 21% compared to 2019, according to figures from the notary’s federation Fednot.

Last year saw 10,287 couples get married, with the slump in numbers particularly felt in April and May, at the time of the first lockdown. And while the numbers recovered slightly in the months that followed, they could never come up to the 2019 levels.

The federation finds the Covid-19 epidemic the most obvious explanation, not only during lockdown but also as a main cause for couples to postpone marriage, as long as restrictions on travel, gatherings, large-scale events and social distancing are in force, spokesperson Joni Soutaer explained.

Apart from those couples who decided to postpone the whole affair to a later date, another group of people decided to have a simple civil wedding and postpone the celebrations until later.

But the federation warned that if that does not include the signing of a marriage contract, one or other of the parties could find their interests prejudiced.

Anyone who marries without a marriage contract falls under the so-called legal system, and this from the day of the civil marriage,” the federation explains on its website.

This means that three assets are created: a common asset and two separate equity assets. It is best to consider in advance whether this is the arrangement you want. With a marriage contract you can deviate from the legal system. The prospective spouses can also enter into a marriage contract after the marriage. But that does involve more formalities. That is why it is also more expensive.”

As well as signing new marriage contracts, a number of couples every year have reason to amend an existing contract, and those numbers were down, too, in 2020, by 10.1%.

“Couples usually change their contracts when they reach a certain age, on average when they are 59.5 years old,” Soutaer said.

They almost always choose this for reasons of succession planning. Married partners who amend the marriage contract at a younger age often do so at an important moment, such as when the first child is born.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times