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9 things to think about before getting married in the Netherlands

9 things to think about before getting married in the Netherlands

The Legal Expat Desk (LED) is an information hub by GMW lawyers, advising the international community in the Netherlands since 2006. LED regularly publishes articles covering a wide range of legal topics.

Thinking about taking that big step with your significant other in 2018? Marriage brings emotional ties, but also financial and legal ones. Those ties are further complicated when one or both of the people involved in the relationship are from another country. And, as we all know, some relationships end.

9 Tips to get prepared for marriage in the Netherlands

Here are nine tips to prepare yourself before saying "I do":

1. Cause

Anyone can get divorced for any reason in the Netherlands. You don’t need to prove to the court that there is a reason for your divorce. This applies to both people in the marriage and is regardless of nationality.

2. Types of relationships

In the Netherlands, there are three types of legal relationships: marriage, registered partnership and cohabitation. The first two are quite similar, legally speaking, whilst the last one, referred to as having a samenlevingscontract in Dutch, is very different.

If you opt for this, you can get a cohabitation agreement, through a notary, in which you can state which items each of you keeps if the relationship ends and even who will pay what portion of the household expenses. Without a samenlevingscontract, two people living together don’t have any legal status in the Netherlands.

3. Which law will apply?

If you choose to get married, before you tie the knot, you should first visit a lawyer or a notary to determine which country’s laws will apply to your marriage. Generally speaking, if you’re living in the Netherlands, your marriage is governed by Dutch law, but that isn’t universally true. As laws differ by nation, opting for a different set of rules can have far-reaching consequences.

4. Prenup

In the Netherlands, couples can obtain a prenuptial agreement before they are married. This can cover a variety of topics, from pension to distribution of assets. Prenups here cannot exclude spousal alimony, but nearly everything else is on the table. You can even determine which law you’d like your marriage to be regulated under.

If you were married abroad and have a prenuptial agreement, you must get it checked by a notary in the Netherlands in order for it to be valid.

5. Inheritances

In a marriage which took place before January 1, 2018, assets which are inherited by either partner become community property if the couple splits up. This means, if you inherit a home from your parents, it will be counted as a matrimonial asset if your relationship ends.

If you have items or money which you’ve inherited that you want to keep, you should include those in your prenup. This is true for all marriages prior to the start of 2018, even those which took place abroad.

If you get married after the first of the year, you keep what you’ve inherited in the event of a divorce.

6. Pension

The law says that pensions which are built up during the marriage must be shared equally by both partners, regardless of who earns the pension. However, internationals may work for companies that aren’t covered by Dutch pension law. You should check with a lawyer to see what pension arrangements can be made.

7. Parental authority

If you’re planning to have children, you should know that in the Netherlands, the father does not automatically receive parental authority when the child is born if the couple is unmarried. The father must be registered as the father in order to have a legal say in what happens with the children. This is true even if the children were born abroad.

8. Leaving

If you have children together with your partner and the relationship ends, your ex-partner may have a say in whether or not you can leave the country. Both parents with parental authority must agree before moving or evening travelling with their children abroad.

9. Visas

Many internationals move here together with their partner. Should the relationship end, you may no longer have a right to continue living in the Netherlands. If you have minor children, you may be able to stay on the basis that you are caring for them, but that is not guaranteed. You should check with an immigration lawyer about your options.

Be informed

Marriage law is complicated and ending a relationship is difficult both legally, financially and emotionally. If you’re planning on getting married, you should first speak to a lawyer and / or a notary about what your obligations are. And if you’re already married, you should speak to one as well, just to make sure your legal house is in order.

The experts at the Legal Expat Desk have years of experience dealing with international clients in the Netherlands and can help you with getting prepared for the big day.

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