Expats who don’t want to get married in the Netherlands may opt for a registered partnership or a cohabitation agreement.
Registered partnership in the Netherlands
For couples who want to enjoy the social benefits of marriage, but don't want to have a traditional marriage, it is possible to have a registered partnership. This gives the couple the same rights that a married couple might have in the Netherlands.
How to register your partnership in the Netherlands
If you want to enter into a registered partnership, you need to contact your local municipality at least two weeks before the planned date of your registered partnership. You will need to make an appointment with the registrar, and they will tell you which documents you will need to take with you to the meeting. You will also need to make sure you have at least two, and no more than four, witnesses over the age of 18.
Registering a partnership from outside of the Netherlands
A registered partnership granted outside of the Netherlands must be registered within the Netherlands. In order to do so, the relevant documents can be presented and authenticated at the local municipality office. However, note that the rules and regulations regarding the registered partnership in the country of origin must match those of the Netherlands.
Registered partnership in the Netherlands when living abroad
If you are a Dutch national who is living abroad but wants to register their partnership in the Netherlands, you will need to do so at the municipality of the Foreign Documents department of The Hague.
Converting your registered partnership into a marriage
If you want to marry your registered partner, you can have your registered partnership converted into a marriage at the municipality you live in. Please note, you cannot convert your marriage into a registered partnership.
Parenthood in a registered partnership
If a child is born in a marriage or registered partnership between a man and a woman, both will automatically be registered as the legal parents, even if the man is not the biological father.
Parenthood in a same-sex registered partnership
There are some differences when it comes to same-sex registered partners and heterosexual partners concerning parenthood:
Parenthood: Registered partnership between two women
When it comes to a registered partnership (or same-sex marriage) between two women, the biological mother is automatically registered as a parent. Depending on the situation, the co-mother may or may not be automatically registered as a parent.
Parenthood: Registered partnership between two men
As for a registered partnership (or marriage) between two men, different rules apply. If the father’s partner wants to acquire paternity, he can do so via affidavit or adoption.
If you enter into a registered partnership in the general community of property, you and your partner will share all belongings and debts. This does not apply to property that you bequeath or inherit.
If you wish to keep your belongings and debts separate, you can have a partnership agreement drawn up by a civil-law notary. They will ensure that your partnership agreement is entered in the matrimonial property register, which you can look up here.
Ending a registered partnership
If you would like to end your registered partnership, you can do so without the involvement of the courts when you have no children under 18. Legal separation is not possible if you are in a registered partnership.
What are the differences between a marriage and a registered partnership?
There are only two differences between registered partnership and marriage:
- A declaration of marriage vows is required when entering a marriage. This is not required for registered partnerships.
- You can only dissolve your marriage in court and legal separation is only possible when you are married.
Cohabitation agreement in the Netherlands
If marriage or a registered partnership do not suit your needs, then a final option would be to make a cohabitation agreement.
Cohabitation agreements are ideal for couples in the Netherlands who live together and wish to share their finances and assets, for example, bank accounts, properties bought, or mortgages. It is common for this agreement, or contract, to be drawn up by a notary, although this is only necessary if the couple wants to benefit from a partner pension scheme.
Cohabitation agreement & children
When it comes to cohabitation agreements, the biological mother automatically has parental responsibility. Their partner can get parental responsibility by acknowledging the child and applying for joint parental responsibility.
Living together without an official agreement
Of course, it is possible to live together as a couple without any official agreement. However, please note that living together, even without an official agreement, will have certain consequences for rules of certain institutions, such as the Dutch tax office. For example, living with someone could affect your benefits and allowances and your tax return.