Relocating with children after a relationship breakdown

Relocating with children after a relationship breakdown

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The Legal Expat Desk (LED) is an information hub by GMW Advocaten, advising the expat community in the Netherlands since 2006.

In a previous article on relocation after divorce, I laid out the possibilities and impossibilities for the main carer to relocate with the children to a different part of the Netherlands, or even to a different country, after a relationship breakdown.

Rulings on family relocation

There is currently a proliferation of rulings on the issue of relocation.

Due to the internationalisation of society, there is an increase in international relationships - with the associated risk that, after a divorce, one of the parents would like to return to his or her homeland.

More and more relocation cases are also occurring in the Netherlands as the result of a parent moving to be with a new love interest living somewhere else in the country.

Parents are permanently tied

Parents know perfectly well that they will be forever tied to each other because of their son or daughter, but they do not always realise the impact this has on their own life.

A parent is not allowed to relocate with the children without the permission of the other parent who has parental responsibility.

If a relocation happens without permission of the other parent, and it is beyond Dutch borders, then it is considered child abduction. This is a criminal offence.

It is also not possible to relocate within the Netherlands without permission.

Relocation criteria to consider

Earlier I explained the balancing of interests a judge will have to carry out if an application for permission to relocate is put before the court.

The criteria which play a role in a court approval for relocation are:

The right and interest of the main carer to relocate, and the freedom to start a new life.

The need to relocate.

The degree to which the relocation was properly considered and prepared.

The alternatives and measures offered by the main carer to soften and/or compensate the consequences of the relocation for the children and the other parent.

The division of care duties and the continuity of care.

The rights of the remaining parent and the children to unrestricted contact with each other in their familiar environment.

The frequency of the contact between the children and the remaining parent before and after the relocation.

The age of the children, their opinion and the degree to which they are settled in their environment, or whether they are actually used to moving.

The (extra) costs of contact as a result of the relocation.

The degree to which parties are able to have mutual communication and consultation.

The interests of the child

If separated or divorced parents cannot reach an agreement on their own, then court involvement may be required.

When a judge considers an application for permission to relocate, the interests of the child are held paramount, however other interests, such as those listed above, also remain relevant.

Marjet van Yperen-Groenleer is a specialist in Family Law at GMW Advocaten / Legal Expat Desk.

If you or someone in your social circle has relocation-related issues, please do not hesitate to contact her directly.


Marjet Groenleer


Marjet Groenleer

Marjet Groenleer is an attorney-at-law and associate partner at GMW lawyers in The Hague. Her focus is on (international) divorces, in particular the financial aspects thereof. She is a member...

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