We provide all the information you need if you are looking to get divorced in the Netherlands and start the legal proceedings.
Most expats getting divorced in the Netherlands will be able to do so legally, and the divorce should also be recognised in your own country. Filing for divorce in the Netherlands is not a difficult process. If you got married there, you must get your marriage formally dissolved (ontbinding) by the District Court. This helpful guide, provided by SCG Advocaten, explains the process and what to expect during divorce proceedings.
Carlijn van der Vegt-Boshouwers from SCG Advocaten advises and informs clients in family law matters, such as maintenance, care arrangements, divisions, and the settlement of prenuptial agreements. She works with clients in and outside the Netherlands and assists with international family law issues, as well as working as a divorce mediator.
There are three types of formal unions in the Netherlands: marriage, a registered partnership, and a living together agreement. They all apply to both heterosexual and same-sex couples. You can read more about this in our guide to marriage in the Netherlands.
Despite the introduction of same-sex , the marriage rate in the Netherlands has been . In addition, divorce has become much more common over the past 50 years, like most other EU countries. In fact, divorce rates in the Netherlands have more than double since 1970, according to OECD statistics. Marriage dissolutions have also become more common. In 2017, nearly 10 per 1,000 marriages ended this way, compared with only three in 1,000 in 1950.
Despite these facts, the current divorce rate is slightly lower than the EU average: 2 people per 1,000. Generally speaking, marriages also tend to last slightly longer than they did in the past: an average of 15.1 years in 2017, compared to just 11.2 years in 1950, according to online statistics portal, Statista.
The legal grounds for divorce in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the Dutch court must process and approve all divorces, and they will usually process the divorce if your partner is Dutch. If you and your partner are both residents of countries outside of the Netherlands, you may first need to find out whether Dutch laws can apply before you file for divorce. This decision may depend on whether your children live in the Netherlands, and whether your main property is in the country.
Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
Regardless of whether you are an expat or a native, you will need to demonstrate the reasons behind wanting to divorce your partner. The only legal grounds for divorce in the Netherlands is ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage’.
How this relates to your relationship is fairly open to interpretation, and usually you won’t have to define or prove how the marriage has broken down. There is also no financial advantage to being the person who is filing the divorce.
What to do if your visa depends on your marriage
Getting divorced is stressful, especially if you’re divorcing in another country. As an expat, it is important to remember that your right to gratis suikeroom plaatsen remain in the Netherlands could also be put into question. If you are a Dutch or EU citizen, or you have a residence permit in your own name, you will retain the right to remain in the Netherlands even after a divorce.
It gets trickier if your residence permit is a spousal permit, which are typically tied to your spouse’s job. In this case, getting divorced could mean that you will have to apply for a Dutch permit in your own name in order to stay in the country. Getting a formal separation and living separately may also affect your residency rights. With this in mind, it is important to consult your lawyer as part of the divorce mediation, to make sure that you have the correct residence permit.