Divorce Laws

I am British.  I was married to a Belgian and became Belgian by marriage in 1973 and divorced him in 1983. With Brexit pending, I am interested to know if I could still be a Belgian, a European, despite the divorce?  Does anyone out there know?

Hi and welcome to the Forum.

I'm interested in how you think you became Belgian by marriage?  I have no doubt that at some stage, providing you met whatever the requirements were at the time, you could have applied for Belgian nationality, but I can't think of any circumstance where any country grants nationality on marriage.

One certain way would be you would have been granted a Belgian passport; do you have one?

Hope this helps (and I hope I'm wrong).

Cynic
Expat Team

Hi Cynic,

It was at that time based on the law of 15/12/1980 to obtain Belgian nationality via the principle of the foreigner who can claim seven years of principal residence in Belgium covered by a legal residence and who, at time of declaration, has been admitted or authorized to stay for an unlimited period.

For the rest, BREXIT or not, divorce or not, If you are not Belgian on the basis of the Belgian nationality of one of your parents on the day of your birth or by birth on Belgian soil, the Belgian nationality can be withdrawn by the Court of Appeal (= "forfeiture") if you have seriously failed in your obligations as a Belgian citizen OR if you have acquired Belgian nationality on the basis of facts presented in an altered or concealed manner or on the basis of false declarations or false or falsified documents.

The court may also revoke Belgian nationality if you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment of at least five years without suspension for certain offenses cited by the NBC OR in case of cancellation of a marriage of complacency.

Your children do not lose Belgian nationality as a result.

Thanks, Phipiemar.

So it's pretty much as I said, i.e. not granted at the point of marriage, but could be granted by virtue of compliance with "the law of 15/12/1980 to obtain Belgian nationality via the principle of the foreigner who can claim seven years of principal residence in Belgium covered by a legal residence and who, at time of declaration, has been admitted or authorized to stay for an unlimited period.".

For the rest of it, the normal rules of "Jus sanguinis" would have applied.

So, assuming the lady was granted a Belgian passport under the provisions of the law you've quoted, maintained that passport for the duration, plus not done anything to forfeit her nationality, she should be OK; otherwise, she's a Brit - sorry.

Hope this helps.

Cynic
Expat Team

Thank-you Cynic and Phipiemar for your comments.

When I left Belgium I applied for a British passport which I have held ever since then, not  attempting to renew my Belgian passport or identity card.

I have three Belgian children, with Belgian passports.  But my youngest daughter, who I was carrying when I left my husband and who was educated in England, has a house and works here, wanted to apply for a British passport before the Brexit fiasco.  She was told that she would have to give up her Belgian one - by the Belgian embassy, that she could not have both.

This leads me to believe that by taking an English passport in 1978 I effectively gave up my rights to a Belgian one.  Do you know if this is true?

Thank-you.

Hello,

If, as a major Belgian, you voluntarily acquire a foreign nationality

The lifting of the ban on multiple nationality among major Belgians who voluntarily acquire another nationality, introduced by the law of 27 December 2006, took place in two stages:

From 9 June 2007, Belgian nationals acquiring the nationality of a country not party to the Council of Europe Convention on the Reduction of Cases of Multiple Nationality, signed in Strasbourg on 6 May 1963, retained their nationality Belgian.

The States Parties to the Council of Europe Convention are Austria, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain and the Netherlands. .

As from 28 April 2008, the lifting of the prohibition of multiple nationality is complete, which means in practice that any Belgian national who voluntarily acquires the nationality of one of the countries listed above retains his Belgian nationality.

The law on dual nationality does not require any formality. You must not make a declaration to a communal service or a diplomatic post abroad.

Warning: this measure has no retroactive effect. If, in the past, you have lost your Belgian nationality, you do not automatically recover it; you will have to file a recovery declaration.

You, as a Belgian with dual nationality, can renounce Belgian nationality by making a declaration to that effect. This declaration can be subscribed with the registrar of your municipality of main residence (This hyperlink opens a new window) or with the Belgian embassy or consulate (This hyperlink opens a new window) of the country where you reside.

If as a foreigner you acquire Belgian nationality
As a foreign national, you can obtain dual nationality if you acquire Belgian nationality, for example through the declaration of nationality or naturalization, and you retain your nationality of origin. In this case too, it is the legislation of the country of origin (This hyperlink opens a new window) that determines whether you can keep your original nationality.

As a minor, If you are from a mixed marriage, you may be born with one or more nationalities. In this case we speak of dual nationality or plurinationality.

1. If you come from a mixed marriage of which at least one of the authors is Belgian

Belgian nationality is automatically assigned to you at birth if:

you were born in Belgium
you are not born in Belgium but this is the case of your Belgian author
In addition to the Belgian nationality, you also have the nationality of your non-Belgian author, unless the laws of the country of origin of the latter decide otherwise. The authorities of the country of origin (This hyperlink opens a new window) of your non-Belgian author can confirm you whether or not you have the nationality of this one.
If you have two or more nationalities, including Belgian nationality, you will be considered Belgian in Belgium and therefore registered as such in the registers of the population of your residence in Belgium (This hyperlink opens a new window).

2. If you come from a mixed marriage and none of your authors have Belgian nationality

You are in principle the same nationality as your authors, unless the laws of the country of origin of the latter decide otherwise. The authorities of the country of origin (This hyperlink opens a new window) of your authors can confirm to you if you own or not the nationality of these.
When one of your authors acquires Belgian nationality before your majority, in principle you become Belgian at the same time as you fulfill the required conditions.

It is the nationality law of your country of origin that determines whether or not you retain your nationality of origin.

Hello again Phipiemar,

I keep reading this but not understanding whether:

as a British woman, born in Britain of British parents and marrying a Belgian in Belgium in 1973 (and having 3 Belgian children) and acquiring a Belgian passport and identity card, leaving him in 1981 and divorcing him in 1983 when I resorted to my British passport, I am now able to have a Belgian passport that would allow me travel more easily between UK and Belgium in the event of No Deal Brexit, where my ex-husband - 8 years older than me, I am 70 - is ill and in need of help.

What do you think?  A recovery declaration made at the Belgian Embassy in London?   I have not been able to make your hyperlinks work.

Thanks again for your help.

The hyperlinks all bring to sites of the Belgian state in French and / or Flemish. There are 1387 Internet sites FR / NL but only 78 EN...
https://www.belgium.be/fr/adresses_et_sites/overview

Declaration of nationality
https://justice.belgium.be/fr/themes_et … ationalite

Declaration of naturalization
https://justice.belgium.be/fr/themes_et … ralisation

Loss, retention and recovery of Belgian nationality
https://diplomatie.belgium.be/fr/Servic … couvrement

Loss of Belgian nationality
https://diplomatie.belgium.be/fr/Servic … ment/perte

Preservation of Belgian nationality
https://diplomatie.belgium.be/fr/Servic … nservation

Recovery of Belgian nationality
https://diplomatie.belgium.be/fr/Servic … couvrement

Hi again.

Not sure if this is applicable to your intentions, but the EU has amended Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 which will (post-Brexit) place UK nationals on the list of those who are exempt from the EU visa requirements for short-term visits (i.e. less than 90 days in any one year); so, post-Brexit, if your stay in Belgium is going to be less than 90 days, you won't need a visa.

With regards to the "recovery declaration", my advice would be to contact the Belgian Embassy and tell them you wish to do this and explain your circumstances.

Hope this helps.

Cynic
Expat Team

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