Two people who are living together and make a declaration of statutory cohabitation to the municipal authorities of their municipality of residence are statutory cohabitants. That declaration provides them with certain legal protection.
Statutory cohabitation is open to all people who live together in Belgium. It is therefore available to both heterosexual couples and homosexual couples. It is also possible to cohabit, under the statutory scheme, with a member of your family or with anyone with whom you have a relationship without sexual connotations.
Requirements of statutory cohabitation
You can sign a declaration of statutory cohabitation provided that:
- you have the legal capacity to enter into a contract
- you are not married
- you are not cohabiting with another person under the statutory scheme
Declaration of statutory cohabitation
You must submit a written declaration of statutory cohabitation to the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. The registrar will give you proof of receipt.
You can draw up a declaration of statutory cohabitation yourself or use the standard form made available by many municipalities.
The declaration must contain the following information:
- the date of the declaration
- both parties’ full names, places and dates of birth and signatures
- the address of the joint residence
- a reference to the parties’ intention to cohabit under the statutory scheme
- a statement that the two parties have acquainted themselves beforehand with the content of Articles 1475 to 1479 of the Civil Code, governing the status of cohabitation
- reference to the cohabitation agreement previously entered into before a notary, if this is the case
The Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths checks whether the legal requirements governing statutory cohabitation are met. If so, the declaration will be recorded in the population register.
Rights and duties of cohabitants
The Civil Code sets out the rights and duties of cohabitants:
- Protection of the family home relates to the building serving as the joint residence and to the furniture in it. A single cohabitant cannot alone make the decision to sell, gift or mortgage the residence. It is first necessary to obtain the agreement of the other cohabitant. If the latter refuses without valid reason, the court may allow the first cohabitant to act alone.
- Cohabitants must contribute to the costs of living together, according to their circumstances. Like married couples, cohabitants are therefore required to contribute to household expenses. This also applies to the costs of maintaining, bringing up and educating children forming part of the household, whether or not they are the children of both cohabitants. Cohabitants also share the cost of the property tax for their accommodation, even if it belongs only to one of them, as well as road tax when a vehicle is owned jointly.
- Joint and several liability for certain debts. Whenever one of the cohabitants incurs a debt which is essential for the purposes of cohabitation or for the children they are raising together, the other cohabitant will also be bound by this rule. Examples: a loan for housing, a car, etc. This does not apply to debts which are excessive in relation to the financial resources of the two cohabitants.
For information on the administrative procedure, contact the Civil Status Office in your municipality.
SPF Justice – Information Unit
115 boulevard de Waterloo
02 542 65 11
Federal Ministry of Justice
Updated on 9 November 2020