On 1 January 2012, several provisional changes were made to the marital community of property regime. What does this mean for divorcing couples? In order to shed some light on the practicalities, this article will elaborate on changes made with regards to reference dates.
Couples that marry under the marital regime of community of property and goods must divide their property and assests when terminating their marriage. However, it is worth exploring the circumstances under which the reference date is set for the extent of division of the property and goods as well as that of the valuation of the overall assets.
At present, the reference date for the extent of division of property and goods is the day the divorce is registered. The reference date for the valuation itself takes place on the day the assets are meant to be divided. In the case of real estate, this is when oboth parties sign the deed with a notary.
However, the present situation has disadvantages. Quite a lot of time can pass between the moment one of the parties moves out of the marital home and the moment of registration of divorce. This means that the spouses have no insight into each other’s dealings and financial manipulations of their joint assets and property until the divorce is final. It often happens that one of the spouses strips significant amounts from the jointly owned account. Other times the value of jointly owned assets rises or falls. The division of assets and property is meant to be the final step in the divorce proceedings. Thus it is unclear what may happen with jointly owned property until the divorce is final, under current legislation.
As per 1 January 2012, the reference date for the extent of division of property and goods will be the day (one of) the parties file(s) petition for divorce in court. This means the spouses will no longer be able to manipulate their assets. If, for example, one of the parties makes a debt after the petition of divorce is filed, this debt will no longer fall into the community of assets and property.
The reference date for the valuation has not changed. If the spouses manage to come to an agreement, arranging a different date of reference is still an option; however, it remains difficult to do so.
This post is part 2 of a series of 3 articles on marital community of property.
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.