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2011-02-14 - Court of cassation

Family · Belgium · Marriage · Ordre public · Polygamy

Effects of a second polygamous marriage on Belgian law on pension

Key facts of the case - The applicant is a Belgian widow in polygamous marriage with a Moroccan national, as his first wife. The second wife/widow argued that her own marriage had not been dissolved abroad in order to obtain the Belgian widows’ pensions to be divided between both women. The court has to decide upon the consequence of the second marriage on the determining of the pension.

Main reasoning of the court - the court holds that Belgian international ordre public does not preclude, as a rule, recognition in Belgium of effects of a marriage validly contracted abroad in accordance with their national law by spouses one of whom was at the time of this marriage, already bound in a not yet dissolved marriage celebrated abroad in the same circumstances with a person whose national law allows polygamy. To preclude social effects to this second marriage the first wife cannot neither argue that she had become a Belgian national after the second marriage of her husband nor that she has been settled in Belgium for over forty years.
Moreover the previous ruling violates the Convention on social insurance between Belgium and Morocco in that it deprives the second widow of her share of pension.