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Divorce in the Netherlands

Divorce in the Netherlands

Updated on Wednesday 09th September 2015

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What are the conditions for obtaining a divorce in the Netherlands?

A divorce in the Netherlands can be requested by both spouses jointly and also by one of them (a unilateral request). In both cases, it is necessary that the parties to be represented by a lawyer before the court located in the applicant's jurisdiction.

The divorce in the Netherlands may be asked at any time after the marriage, there is not required to be married for a certain period before entering into divorce procedures. The divorce is achieved by registration of the judgment in the registers of civil status. The registration can be done only after the judgment has become untouchable (the force of res judicata). The registration must be completed within six months after the judgment has become final, otherwise it will lose its effect. If the marriage was registered abroad and the foreign marriage certificate is not included in the Dutch registers of births, the divorce procedure implies the entering of the divorce judgment in the special register of civil status of Hague.


The division of property of the spouses in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has fairly specific rules concerning the income and assets during marriage. The legal system is the community of property. This implies, in principle, all property of the spouses, both obtained before and during the marriage, in the community.

Also, all debts contracted before and during the marriage, in principle, fall within the community, regardless of which of the spouses' debt is incurred. Any creditor can recover the debt from any of the spouses. The community property is dissolved by divorce and the the joint estate should be divided. The basic principle in the law applied for divorce in Netherlands is that each spouse is entitled to half. The spouses may agree on other division of assets on the basis of a divorce agreement or by the distribution of goods.

By making prenuptial agreement before or during (occurs very rarely) marriage, spouses can choose a different system of assets distribution than the legal system and will come in force in case of divorce.


The parental authority after divorce in the Netherlands

After divorce in the Netherlands, the parents continue to exercise joint custody and the custody is given to only one of them in exceptional situations. The request for single custody can be made by both parents or only by one of them. The parent who does not have authority to the child's custody, has the right to ask the court to determine visitation.

If parents continue to exercise common custody after the divorce in the Netherlands, the intention is that together they make agreements about the finances for the care of the children. They can also ask the judge to capture these arrangements. The court may also determine the contribution to the alimony, by following a certain percent of the spouse's income.


The obligation of payments to the other spouse in the Netherlands

The court may decide, in the divorce judgment or by a subsequent ruling, that the ex-spouse who has not sufficient income for his/her livelihood to obtain financial benefits from the other ex-spouse in order to maintain a decent lifestyle. In determining this, the court takes into account the needs of the ex-spouse and the means (financial resources) of the other ex-spouse. If the court sets no time limit on the duration of the maintenance obligation, the maintenance obligation ends after 12 years. However, in case of a short (no longer than 5 years) childless marriage, the maintenance period can be set for a period less or equal to the marriage duration.


The divorce procedure in the Netherlands

The divorce in the Netherlands always begins with a petition that contains the applicant's name, first names and place of residence of the spouses, as provided by the Ducth law. If there are minor children involved, the data on these children should also be mentioned. In addition to a request for divorce, there may also be asked for one or more ancillary facilities. The court may take an ancillary facility:

- the authority involved in the custody of minor children;

- the maintenance for one of the former spouses and / or children;

- the division of matrimonial property or the settlement of the agreed prenuptial system;

- the use of the marital home and the pension equalization.

The petition must be submitted to the court by a lawyer. The applicant who lives in the Netherlands must submit the application before the court in the district where he/she resides. When the applicant does not live in the Netherlands, but the other spouse does, the petition must be submitted to the court in the district where the other spouse lives. When both spouses reside outside the Netherlands, the request must be sent to court of Hague.


Which documents must be submitted for the divorce procedure in the Netherlands

The petition for divorce in the Netherlands must be deposited along with the following documentation:

  • - original extracts (up to three months old) from the population register of both spouses, indicating nationality, marital status and, when one does not have Dutch nationality, also an indication of the date of entry in the Netherlands.
  • - original extracts from the register of births (up to 3 months old) of the minor children;
  • - original extract from the marriage register

When minor children are involved, a parenting plan is required. A parenting plan includes agreements between the parents regarding the daily care of the children, school, sports, medical care, arrangements for special days like holidays, finance, practical arrangements.


Please contact us for further details about the divorce procedure and particularities in the Netherlands and also count on our experience when you need a divorce lawyer.



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