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International divorce: cross-border legal cooperation

GMW lawyers and the Legal Expat Desk serve clients across the globe. Cross-border cooperation in the practice of law is reflected in the growing number of divorce cases with an international dimension. GMW lawyers represents expats who, for example, want to arrange their divorce in the Netherlands, or who are forced to do so by their spouse.

Dutch citizens abroad

GMW lawyers also regularly represent Dutch citizens who are in the midst of divorce proceedings in another country. Sometimes the proceedings take place in the Netherlands as well as abroad. This can happen when a Dutch court does not have jurisdiction in respect of all aspects of the proceedings. To illustrate this:

A married Dutch couple living in France with their children can file for divorce in the Netherlands. However, a Dutch court does not have jurisdiction to make provisions for the children (with regard to e.g. access or visitation rights). If the parties are unable to reach agreement amongst themselves concerning the children, they will have to take action in France.

In the interest of coherence (for the broader context of the divorce), it may be advisable to maintain good contact with the other lawyer, in this case in France. We advise and consult one another. This cooperation is not only interesting and instructive, but also extremely valuable to the client.

We advise Dutch nationals who divorce abroad (under certain circumstances) to consult a Dutch lawyer. This way, they can also get an insight in the question of whether Dutch law recognises foreign rulings or judgments.

Foreign lawyers

It also works the other way around, with GMW lawyers writing legal opinions for lawyers abroad. During divorce proceedings conducted abroad, certain aspects of the divorce could be subjected to Dutch law. The regulations of private international law of each country determine which law is applicable to the various aspects of the divorce.

It occurs frequently that foreign lawyers have to deal with a divorce property settlement in accordance with Dutch law. The general community of property, for example, is one facet of the Dutch legal system that is unique in the world. Therefore, we frequently need to explain this to a foreign audience.

Do you need help with an international divorce? Contact us – we’ll be glad to assist you.

This article was updated November 2017.