Divorce in the Netherlands

Can a Dutch couple abroad always get a divorce in the Netherlands?

Previous blog posts (here and here) mainly focused on whether foreign nationals living in the Netherlands can file for divorce in the Netherlands. This blog post will look at Dutch nationals living abroad and competency of the Dutch court.

Dutch nationals living abroad

In the case of Dutch nationals living abroad, the Dutch court may grant the divorce when both spouses have Dutch nationality or if one of the spouses has dual nationality. In divorce proceedings, the Dutch court is competent to rule on issues such as alimony and child support. The court can also decide upon the division of joint assets or can enforce a prenuptial agreement.

However, the Dutch court may not make decisions concerning children. These concern the establishment of contact arrangements, assigning the children’s primary residence, allocating parental authority, etc. This is, assuming that the children of the Dutch couple do not live in the Netherlands either. Solely the court of the country in which the children live is competent to decide on such issues, even when the child(ren) has Dutch nationality.

Thus, solely the financial aspects of the divorce can be settled in the Netherlands. Which law will be applied by the Dutch court is another question. This depends on the facts and circumstances of the individual case. This subject is too extensive to expand on here.

Recognition and enforcement of a Dutch divorce abroad

Is a divorce that is granted in the Netherlands always recognised in the former spouses’ country of residence? This depends on the country’s legislation. Member states of the European Union have agreed to recognise each other’s divorces. In these countries, there will be no problems with recognition of the divorce and other agreed issues.

For countries with which there are no such agreements, the internal law of the state determines whether the decision of the Dutch court is recognised, and if so, under what conditions. For its enforcement, the same applies as for recognition. It would therefore be advisable for a Dutch couple to first figure out whether and to what extent their country of residence recognises Dutch divorce before embarking on divorce proceedings in the Netherlands.


Are you a Dutch national living abroad with children? Do you have questions regarding divorce proceedings and the competency of the Dutch court? Or do you have any other related questions? Please do not hesitate to contact us.