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.
This article was updated November 2017.
Marjet Groenleer is an attorney-at-law and associate partner at GMW lawyers in The Hague. She has been active in family law for more than 15 years, focused on on (international) divorces. Marjet is a trained divorce mediator with the vFAS (Dutch Association of Family mediators and lawyers).
Marjet has a particular interest and a profound knowledge of the international aspects of family law. She is an expert in dealing with complex financial and multi-jurisdictional cases of an international family breakdown. Because of her experience and previous jobs, she is familiar with several foreign legal systems. A great number of her clients are expats. She understands the needs of expats working for the various international organisations and companies based in The Netherlands, specifically in the area of The Hague (lsuch as EPO, Estec, OPCW, NATO, the tribunals, ICC, Shell, etc.)
Marjet worked as a lecturer in International Civil Law for several years and at the Court of Appeals in The Hague in the family law sector. Today, she is a deputy judge in the Court of Appeals in Amsterdam. Marjet publishes regularly in professional journals and keeps you informed of the various complex aspects of (international) divorces with her weblogs.