International divorce

International divorce in the Netherlands

If you’ve already made the decision to get divorced, the next step is discovering your options. While many divorce arrangements must still be agreed, the good news is that obtaining a divorce is easier in the Netherlands.

Yes you can

Most of the time it is possible to get divorced in the Netherlands, even if you are not a Dutch national and even if you were married in another country.

This means that a Dutch judge has jurisdiction to rule on your divorce; it does not determine which law will apply.


Depending on the national and international rules that apply to your specific situation, you may get divorced in the Netherlands, but have a foreign country’s law apply to your divorce.

The law which applies to your divorce will determine your rights and obligations, so it’s extremely important. The financial consequences of marriage and divorce differ per country. For example, if a foreign law applies to determining maintenance, you may not be entitled to maintenance or have only a limited right under that foreign law.

If you can get divorced in more than one country, applications will be treated on a “first come, first served” basis. So if you wish to get divorced in the Netherlands, you must apply for divorce in the Netherlands first.

Together or apart

If you and your spouse both agree on getting divorced and you can negotiate the terms of your divorce, then you can file a joint petition for divorce. This is the fastest way to get divorced.

If you cannot reach an agreement on the terms of your divorce, then you can file an individual petition for divorce with the help of a lawyer. This will not affect your rights.


You do not need to provide a reason to get divorced in the Netherlands and all divorces are considered no-fault. All that is required is that at least one party asserts that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

No separation period is necessary and you can file for divorce while still living in the same house.

Divorce process

  1. Confirm that you can get divorced in the Netherlands.
  2. Find a lawyer. (You cannot represent yourself.)
  3. Get the best possible divorce, including specific agreements about children. A parenting plan is required.
  4. Go through the legal process of a divorce.

Need advice?

Our team of family law experts can assist you in English and help you navigate even the most complex divorce. Contact us directly to discuss your situation.


Further information

Read quick answers to the Top 10 FAQ about divorce for expats living in the Netherlands

Get the full whitepaper: Top 10 FAQ about divorce


This article was first published in ACCESS magazine