Home > Family > Belgium > 2009-06-04 - Court of appeal, n. 96/2009

2009-06-04 - Court of appeal, n. 96/2009

Family · Belgium · Marriage · Polygamy

Simultaneous and successive polygamy and the widow’s right to a survival pension

Key facts of the case - A Belgian-Moroccan widow requests that the law be found unconstitutional because of a disparity between Belgian widow in monogamous marriage (entitled to a full pension right) and bi-national widows in polygamous marriage (entitled only to a half pension).

Main reasoning of the court - The court held as reasonable a distinction between the right of a single surviving spouse to the full amount of her husband pension and the right of two or more widows who cannot claim but a portion of that pension.
The fact that, in this case, a widow has also acquired Belgian nationality does not modify such a justification. Belgian Law itself allowed situations where are accepted more than one beneficiaries of a survivor’s pension. For example, the Court pointed out that in the regime of public sector pension, each surviving divorced spouses are entitled to survivor’s pension in proportion to the respective periods of their marriage with the person who opens this right.
Due to the analogy between (Muslim) simultaneous polygamy and (Belgian) successive polygamy linked with divorce and new marriages, neither public order nor discrimination can be opposed to the fact that a bi-national Belgian widow of a Moroccan polygamist may have to divide her pension with other widows still living in Morocco.