Many people believe that they will be able to make the end of their relationship civil – but unfortunately, this does not always happen. Instead, escalating hurt and anger cause hostility and make communication difficult. In such circumstances, the divorce process is anything but friendly. This is where a good divorce lawyer can help.
Keep it courteous
At the start of a divorce process, clients often express their desire for a cordial procedure. You may wish to neatly exit from your relationship with the minimum of fuss, or to avoid upsetting your children. You may even want to protect your soon-to-be ex-spouse and provide for their future.
These are admirable goals, but achieving them is only possible if both partners are committed.
Fault – no fault
One of the “quirks” of Dutch law is that all divorces are regarded as no-fault. This means that matter how badly one or both partners has behaved, legally speaking this will make no difference. All that is needed to apply for divorce itself is that one of the partners asserts that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
The legal system may not allocate blame, but divorcing partners often do.
Money, money, money
Even the best intentions can quickly turn sour when the conversation turns to money. Divorce requires a division of joint assets and property (money), shares, savings, pensions and debts (money), as well as considerations about child support and/or partner maintenance (money).
In order to get divorced, you will need to reach a consensus about your financial separation. This is often the hardest part of the whole process.
Can you imagine another situation in which someone demands you give him or her half of everything you own? Or imagine that your financial future depends on someone with whom you are in conflict? That is exactly what happens during a divorce, and very often, the two partners have opposing interests.
The essential role of a divorce lawyer
Under Dutch law, you will need a lawyer to get divorced; you cannot represent yourself in court. This may seem like an unfortunate obligation, but in practice, it can work to your advantage.
The benefits of hiring your own lawyer
If you hire your own lawyer, their job is to represent your best interests. A lawyer also brings specific subject matter expertise that can be invaluable during negotiations. This includes highlighting key considerations for your specific situation and defining a strategy to achieve your goals in the divorce.
A good divorce lawyer will not only represent you; they will advise you throughout the process. If you are unfamiliar with the Dutch legal system this can be a great advantage, as you can understand the steps involved and prepare accordingly.
Lastly, and sometimes most importantly, your lawyer can help to keep the process as civil as possible. Your lawyer can handle communications with your partner (or his/her lawyer) throughout the divorce process. This helps to filter out some of the emotion and gives you more space to respond appropriately. Even if the negotiations have stalled or reached an impasse, a lawyer can bridge the communication divide between you and your partner to help you achieve a solution.
Facing divorce? Get help you can trust
If you are considering divorce, our team of family lawyers has the expertise to help you get the best possible result. Contact us for more information or to make an appointment.
Antoine de Werd is a partner and head of the family law section at GMW lawyers. He studied Business Law at the University of Leiden and was admitted to the The Hague Supreme Court Bar in 1989. Immediately after, he started GMW lawyers as one of the founders.
Throughout his career, Antoine has concentrated on resolving financial disputes involving high net worth individuals and families. He is one of the few male specialised divorce lawyers in the Netherlands and has substantial legal experience in (international) divorces, especially those involving companies, complex maintenance claims, division of assets/property, retirement benefits and set-off clauses.
Antoine understands that divorce and separation are difficult times. Rather than focusing on the current painful situation, Antoine helps his clients achieve their goal: getting the best solution for their divorce.
A trained mediator as well as a collaborative divorce practitioner, Antoine is also an experienced litigator, so should an out of court settlement fail, he will represent you in court.
Antoine is a member of the Association of Family lawyers and Divorce Mediators (vFas) and the Association of Collaborative Divorce (VvCP).