According to Dutch law, it doesn’t matter why you want to get divorced. This fact surprises many expats. Antoine de Werd of GMW lawyers explains why this rule in Dutch law exists, and what it means for you.
Do I need a reason to get divorced under Dutch law?
No. Under Dutch law, the reason that you want a divorce is irrelevant.
This means that whether there was an affair or other bad conduct, or that you have irreconcilable differences, or you have simply grown apart over time, it will not make any legal difference when you get divorced under Dutch law.
All that is needed is that at least one of the spouses asserts that the marriage has broken down irretrievably; the reason why does not matter legally.
Having one set of rules for everyone getting divorced means that the courts can treat everyone equally, which is an important principle of all Dutch law. It also means that the courts do not have to solve the question of who is to blame for the breakdown of the marriage; they can focus on the law.
Is it easy to get a Dutch divorce?
Some people will argue that there is nowhere easier than the Netherlands to get divorced.
In practice, you can almost always obtain a divorce under Dutch law, even if you were married overseas and you do not have Dutch nationality. Dutch law does not require that you live apart for a certain period of time before applying for a divorce; in fact you can apply for divorce while you are still sharing a home.
However, you will still need make agreements with your ex-spouse on many details to set the terms of your divorce. Partner alimony, child maintenance and the division of assets are just some of the things you will need to consider. These negotiations are often the hardest part of the divorce process. This is where a lawyer can help you achieve the best possible result.
Get quick answers about a Dutch divorce in our Top 10 FAQ about divorce in the Netherlands.
Do I need a lawyer?
Yes, you will need a lawyer in order to get divorced. Your lawyer will represent you in court (in Dutch); you cannot represent yourself.
A good divorce lawyer will also ensure your interests are protected throughout the divorce process. They can help you to navigate the divorce process and point out key factors in your specific situation which can help you achieve a positive outcome.
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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).