Netherlands Divorce & Family Law

The Netherlands law in relation to the breakdown of marriage and welfare of children principally relies on the Dutch Civil Code, and its particular chapters relating to family law, separation and dissolution of marriage.  The Netherlands operates within the framework of EU Regulations, so jurisdiction is determined by the Brussels II (Revised) Regulation and its own rules of civil procedure.  Therefore nationality can in certain cases be relevant to jurisdiction.  So far as children are concerned, the Member State and whichever parent’s jurisdiction the child habitually resides in will have jurisdiction.

There is a scheme governing the recognition of non-European divorce judgments.  The marriage must have been dissolved through a court or similar authority.

The only ground for divorce is irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  For obvious reasons therefore, if one partner files for divorce, realistically the court has to assume that the marriage has irretrievably broken down no matter what the other party says.

There is a statutory regime for Community of Property, but financial agreements are very common and can displace that.  Maintenance can be awarded and will be determined on the basis of needs.  In principle if the marriage has lasted less than 5 years and there are no children, the duration of the maintenance obligation will not exceed the duration of the marriage.  In other cases the maintenance obligation will end after 12 years.  However, if that would result in unjust consequences, the court can alter that provision.  It is not possible to discharge a maintenance obligation by payment of a lump sum designed to end claims.

Enforcement of foreign orders will either proceed through EU instruments, or otherwise will require the procedure under the Code of Civil Procedure, first obtaining leave from the court before proceeding to enforce the judgment.

There is provision for same sex partnership and same sex marriage which broadly brings such relationships in line with that applying to married couples.  However, Dutch law does not contain any statutory provision governing the assets of unmarried cohabitants.  It is not possible to create a general Community of Property in the absence of a particular contract.

We are specialist international divorce lawyers and family solicitors and we advise clients who are either UK-based but originate from the Netherlands, or are living outside of the UK but have a connection with England or Wales.

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