The number of legal cohabitation declarations and terminations rises again
In 2021, 37,768 couples entered into legal cohabitation. This is a slight increase of 4% compared to 2020, but it is still far below the 2019 level (40,801 declarations).
There were relatively more couples ending their legal cohabitation (+12%), but again this remains well below the 2019 level.
The average duration of legal cohabitation before termination continues to increase: from 5.2 years in 2020 to 5.4 years in 2021.
In 2021, marriage was the reason for ending a legal cohabitation in 54.1% of cases and the declaration by mutual agreement in 36.4% of cases.
Legal cohabitation around the age of 31
In 2021, unmarried people entered into legal cohabitation for the first time around the age of 31: on average at 31.8 for the first cohabitant and 29.9 for the second. The age difference in the couple remains stable: 1.8 years for legal cohabitants.
Evolution of the number of legal cohabitation declarations per year and administrative unit, since 2000
Evolution of the number of legal cohabitation terminations per year and administrative unit, since 2000
Statbel publishes for the first time this year a statistic on the declaration of legal cohabitation using the National Register of Natural Persons (RNPP). According to the law of 23 November 1998 establishing legal cohabitation (published in the Belgian Official Journal on 12 January 1999), two persons living together have the possibility, since 1st January 2000, to officially confirm the fact that they live together. Therefore, there is legal cohabitation when two persons living together make a declaration to this effect to their local authorities, irrespective of their sex and relationship. The conditions for such a declaration are the following:
- having the legal capacity to enter into a contract
- not being married
- not being in a legal cohabitation with another person The civil registrar is required to verify compliance with the legal conditions and to register the declaration in the RNPP.
In Belgium, legal cohabitation refers in principle to a situation where two persons live together. However, we have been able to detect some rare cases of registration of legal cohabitation through consular offices abroad.
The current statistic is produced using the information type “legal cohabitation” (I.T. 123) of the RNPP. The I.T. 123 registers a series of data relating to legal cohabitation, including the date of the declaration, the place of registration of the declaration (municipality of residence), the presence of a notarial contract (with the date and place of signature), the date and the reasons of termination. By coupling this information with other I.T. in the RNPP, we can characterise the cohabitants and create tables based on the sex, the age, the nationality, etc. A foreigner residing illegally on the territory can legally enter into legal cohabitation provided that he/she, together with the person with whom he/she is living, has a common principal residence in Belgium.
However, this statistic does not include any cases of two persons living together who are registered in the waiting register. In order to get a coherent statistic, we also have excluded some rare cases where there is a contradiction between the civil status and the situation of legal cohabitation (clearly married (or divorced) persons based on a “reasonable” observation period; cases related to a late - but “reasonable” - registration of divorces are therefore included in the statistics).