Alternatives to getting a divorce in the Netherlands
You should also consider things like pre-nuptial agreements (huwelijkse voorwaarden). The courts will respect this, unless they see it as immoral or contrary to public order.
You can apply for spousal support (alimony) either during or after divorce proceedings. Spousal support will usually be granted if one spouse cannot financially support themselves, or if there is a large gap in earnings between spouses. The court will gather proof of both partners’ financial situations, and see whether the other spouse is able to pay.
If the marriage lasted five years or less, and no children are involved, then spousal support will be paid for the same duration as the marriage lasted. Otherwise, you can receive alimony payments for a maximum of 12 years.
The Dutch government is reportedly planning reforms that will change the conditions for spousal support, however these have not been announced yet.
If Dutch law is applicable to the division of property, it will usually apply to pension rights, too. The couple will equally share all pensions built up during the marriage; this is a pension equalisation (‘pensioenverevening‘).
Your pension fund automatically ount for the other spouse from the main pension, and pays them directly. Certain funds considered to be equivalent to pensions may also be shared. These include pension reserves in a limited company, or a life insurance policy bought to supplement your pension.
Getting an annulment in the Netherlands
An annulment can be a cheaper option for ending a marriage, however you can only apply for it in specific circumstances. For this reason, annulments are much less common. A marriage can only be annulled by a court order, and you must file a petition for the proceedings to begin.
- impediments to the y, partners being related, one or both spouses being under the minimum age at the time of the marriage);
- the marriage being entered into under duress or by mistake;
- one of the spouses having a mental disorder;
- the registrar was incompetent;
- there were insufficient witnesses at the wedding.
If an annulment is granted, it means the marriage will be treated as if it never existed. So, if one partner bought a property during the marriage, it would remain theirs alone; whereas in a divorce, it would be split with the other spouse. The only exception is if any children were born as a result of the annulled marriage. In this case, they will remain officially related to both parents.
A legal separation (scheiding van tafel en bed) is an intermediate step where a couple will technically remain married, but will not live together. However, it is still necessary to formally come to an agreement on issues such as child support and the division of property.
A legal separation may be turned into a divorce after a three-year waiting period. However, it can also be done after one year as long as both partners agree. Many other conditions apply, so it is advisable to seek professional advice first. You do not have to undergo a legal separation before opting for a divorce.
Mediation is common in Dutch divorce cases. The spouses will try to come to a divorce agreement outside of court, with the help of a mediator and sometimes the spouse’s lawyers.
If mediation is successful, it will result in a divorce settlement (echtscheidingsconvenant); a written document covering issues such as hoe om te daten op de universiteit beginnen the division of property and child maintenance. The court may use the details of the settlement when issuing its divorce order.
Mediation can be a favourable option for divorcing couples who want to solve their issues in a more affable way. It is usually less expensive than letting the court decide all the details.