Divorce for expats in the Netherlands in 2021

Divorce for expats in the Netherlands in 2021

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Internationals are often unsure of their options when it comes to getting divorced while living abroad. What are the possibilities? Which law will apply? And what are the potential impacts on their families, finances, living arrangements, residence status and future emigration options? Luckily, GMW lawyers are here to walk you through the key legal information about divorce in 2021, and four reasons why you should get divorced in the Netherlands.

Can I get divorced in the Netherlands?

If you live in the Netherlands, then in most cases you can get divorced in the Netherlands, regardless of your nationality. There are always exceptions - so before you start, it's best to check with a divorce lawyer.

Which law applies to my divorce?

If you can get divorced in the Netherlands, the divorce itself will take place under Dutch law. The fact that Dutch law applies to the divorce itself does not mean that Dutch law applies to all the various topics of the divorce. Being able to get divorced here only means that the Dutch courts can rule on your divorce.

You will need to determine which law applies to each of the various subjects that are dealt with during the divorce - these include the divorce itself, considerations about children, alimony, pensions, and the division of assets.

It may also be that Dutch law applies to the divorce, but that the law of another country applies to, for instance, maintenance or the division of the matrimonial property.

Why does the legal system matter for divorce?

The applicable legal system matters because the financial consequences of marriage and divorce differ per country.

For example, if Dutch law applies to your matrimonial property and you did not arrange anything before or during your marriage (prenuptial agreement), and if you were married after January 1, 2018, it means you were married in a limited community of property. Everything you and your spouse acquired during the marriage (except inheritances and gifts) should be split in half in the event of divorce.

However, if a foreign law applies to the matrimonial property, the financial consequences in the event of divorce may differ from this 50-50 division under Dutch law.

The same applies to partner alimony and child maintenance. It may be that a foreign law applies to determining maintenance. In this case, you may not be entitled to maintenance or have only a limited right under that foreign law.

Subjects in a divorce

During the divorce, agreements must be made about the (division of) finances. This includes the division of the matrimonial property. In addition, in many divorces agreements are made about spousal support. Read more about when you can claim alimony. The agreements about the finances are recorded in a divorce agreement.

If you have children, you will also need to make arrangements on parental authority, (international) access arrangements and child support. These agreements about the children are laid down in a parenting plan.

Four reasons to get divorced in the Netherlands

If you're currently in the middle of a separation, here are four reasons why you should consider filing for divorce in the Netherlands:

  1. All that is required to file for divorce is that one spouse asserts that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. There are no further requirements for divorce. This means that if one of the spouses wants a divorce, the divorce will always be pronounced.
  2. You can file an individual petition for divorce or a joint application for divorce.
  3. No separation period is necessary and you can file for divorce while still living in the same house.
  4. Divorce is always considered no-fault and no grounds for divorce are required.

GMW lawyers has a team of experts in divorce law that can assist you in English with your international divorce. They worked with 45 legal systems last year to help their family law clients achieve the best possible solution. Call GMW on 070 361 5048 for assistance or visit their website.



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