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Filing for a divorce is a stressful business, but getting divorced in a foreign country can be even more confusing and can lead to some unforeseen problems. Learn more about what is and isn’t possible when getting divorced in The Netherlands (also referred to as Holland).
To file a divorce in The Netherlands
If you are a foreign national, you can file for a divorce in The Hague in any the following circumstances, irrespective of your nationality or the country where you were married:
● If both parties reside in The Netherlands;
● If The Netherlands was the last place that parties had a marital home and one of you still resides in the Netherlands;
● If the defending party resides in The Netherlands;
● If the person filing for a divorce has been residing in The Netherlands for at least one year prior to their request.
The Dutch courts do not have jurisdiction in the following cases:
●You were married in the Netherlands, but neither party now resides here;
●One of the parties involved is a Dutch national but neither party now resides here.
Divorce can be either petitioned jointly by both spouses or individually by one of the spouses. In both cases a lawyer is mandatory for filing the divorce petition. The only ground for divorce in The Netherlands is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The Dutch courts no longer actually demand proof of such. If one of the parties claims that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the courts assume that such is the case and will hear the divorce.
If you are both in agreement about the divorce and its consequences a joint petition is the easiest and quickest option. It is usual that parties draft a divorce agreement before filing the divorce petition, in which they arrange matters such as the division of the marital property, spousal or child maintenance and future childcare. The courts will typically grant the divorce as a formality within six to eight weeks of submission of the joint petition for divorce.
If you cannot agree on the consequences of the divorce, it may be necessary to file a petition individually. If one or both parties are foreign nationals, there may, however, be certain complications. For example, if you were married in another country, a different legal system may apply to the division of the marital property. The Dutch courts may then have to apply foreign law when deciding how to divide any property. Also, if you do not reside in the Netherlands, the Dutch courts may not have jurisdiction to hear certain aspects of the case, such as child maintenance.
Advising both national and foreign clients concerning the impact of divorce forms part of our daily practice. We can advise you which aspects of your divorce should or shouldn’t be brought before the Dutch courts and we can take action quickly should injunction proceedings be necessary to secure your rights.
Your comments and questions are always welcome.