Relocation after divorce: are the children coming or not?

Is a divorced parent permitted to relocate with his or her child without the consent of the other parent? The answer to this question largely depends on the facts and circumstances of the case in question. 


In practice it often occurs that several years after the divorce – or even during the divorce proceedings – the main caretaker meets a new partner who lives elsewhere in the country or even abroad. Other times the divorced individual is an international, whether or not temporarily residing in the Netherlands (as an expat for example), and may wish to return to his or her home country.

There are many reasons for relocation or emigration. This raises the question whether the main caretaker has permission to relocate with the child to a different city or country against the will of the remaining parent.


The answer to this question is negative. If the remaining parent has parental responsibility, he or she must give permission. If the remaining parent does not give permission, the other parent can apply to the district court for replacement permission. The court must then weigh in on the opposing interests with the interest of the child playing an important role but other interests also being relevant.

Balancing of interests

Factors which could play a role in the context of such a balancing of interests are the age of the child, his or her social life, the specific needs of the child, the quality and intensity of the contact between the child and the remaining parent, the guarantees for proper contact between the remaining parent and the child after a relocation, the necessity of the relocation etc. If an ‘expat family’ arrived in the Netherlands with the objective of a temporary stay in the Netherlands, a relocation is considered differently than if it concerns a case without international aspects.

There are numerous factors which play a role in the question whether the district court will grant the main caretaker replacement permission to relocate with his or her child. It remains customised work.

More information

If the above issue is relevant in your life and you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Update article: December 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.