Partner alimony

Spousal maintenance is a financial contribution towards the living expenses of one ex-partner by another. The obligation to pay spousal maintenance arises after a divorce or the dissolution of a registered partnership if one of the ex-partners is unable to fully support themselves.

In most cases, the supporting spouse pays a monthly amount to the dependent spouse for several years, but it is also possible to decide in mutual consultation to buy off the maintenance obligation by paying a lump sum. It is also possible to make other payment arrangements.

The amount of spousal maintenance depends on the lifestyle during the marriage or registered partnership, the dependent spouse’s reasonable needs in addition to their income from work and/or assets, and what the supporting spouse can afford. If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on the amount of spousal maintenance, the court will determine the amount.

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On this page, we tell you all about spousal maintenance. We know from experience that disputes over spousal maintenance often cause a great deal of stress. If you have questions resulting from this information, or need advice or assistance, please feel free to contact us for:

Our lawyers have more than 15 years of experience with alimony issues, not only in Dutch family law but also in cases of international divorces.

What is spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is a financial contribution toward the cost of living from one ex-partner to another ex-partner. The obligation to pay spousal maintenance arises after a divorce or the dissolution of a registered partnership if one of the ex-partners cannot fully support himself.

When am I entitled to spousal maintenance?

You are entitled to spousal maintenance if you cannot support yourself financially after your divorce. For instance, you may be entitled to spousal maintenance if you work little or not at all and require financial assistance to care for your children.

Is spousal maintenance mandatory?

After a divorce or the dissolution of a registered partnership, spousal maintenance is mandatory if one of the ex-partners has too little income to provide for his/her livelihood. However, it is generally not mandatory if you lived alone, unless specific arrangements were made in a cohabitation contract.

Do I have to pay spousal maintenance if I was not married?

Were you not married? If you were not married, whether you are required to pay spousal maintenance depends on several factors. If you were in a registered partnership, the same rights and obligations as in a marriage apply. Then the same rights and obligations apply as in a marriage. Therefore, you must pay spousal maintenance if your ex-partner is unable to support himself/herself. If you lived together, you typically are not required to pay spousal maintenance unless arrangements were made in a cohabitation contract. If you did not live together, you do not have to pay spousal maintenance.

Can I buy off spousal maintenance?

To avoid having to pay your ex-partner monthly partner alimony for years to come, it may be an option to buy off the spousal maintenance. In exchange for money or a higher share in the asset division, your ex-partner will waive spousal maintenance. If you are liable for alimony, this type of arrangement might be beneficial. But it also entails risks. If your ex-partner starts living with a new partner, gets married, or earns sufficient income to support themselves, the spousal maintenance obligation will end. If you have paid off the spousal maintenance, you will not get a refund of the overpaid amount.

Our advice is to always seek advice before agreeing to this. We would be happy to walk you through your specific situation.

Can I refuse to pay spousal maintenance?

You and your ex-partner can jointly agree to waive spousal maintenance, for example, if you both have sufficient income and do not want to be financially dependent on each other. If you have a spousal maintenance, you cannot refuse it unless your ex-partner agrees. It is impossible to waive spousal maintenance if the person entitled to maintenance has to apply for social assistance as a result. In that case, part of the payment may be recovered by the municipality from the person liable for maintenance, or it may not be paid to the person who is to receive spousal maintenance.

How is the amount of spousal maintenance calculated?

You can make agreements with your ex-partner about the level of spousal maintenance. Usually these agreements are made in consultation with a mediator or lawyer. If you cannot come to an agreement, the court will calculate the amount of spousal maintenance based on the so-called Trema Normen.

When calculating the amount of spousal maintenance, it is important to take several factors into account. These are also the factors judges take into account when calculating or checking the amount of spousal maintenance.

  • The amount of spousal maintenance must be high enough for your ex-partner to provide for his or her living expenses.
  • As a person liable for maintenance, you must also be able to provide for your own living expenses. This is called carrying capacity.
  • Prosperity during the marriage should be taken into account. With a higher wealth, the spousal maintenance will also be higher.
  • The financial and social circumstances of both ex-partners must be taken into account.

Typically, wages increase annually, as does the cost of living due to inflation, leading to an annual increase in spousal maintenance. This is known as indexing. To this end, each November, the government sets the percentage by which the current spousal maintenance must be adjusted in January of the following year.

How long do I have to pay spousal maintenance?

The duration of spousal maintenance is set by law. The right to spousal maintenance lapses when the maintenance recipient:

  • Has a relationship change, i.e., lives with, gets married to, or enters into a registered partnership with a new partner.
  • Generates enough income to support himself or herself.
  • Dies.

The alimony also lapses if the person liable for alimony dies.

The alimony also lapses if the person liable for spousal maintenance dies. In this case, it is wise to first have a recalculation made and then, based on that calculation, consult with your ex-partner. If you cannot come to an agreement, the court will rule on it. You will need a lawyer to do this.

The duration of spousal maintenance depends on several factors: your age, the date of your marriage, the date of your divorce, and whether you have children. The following applies:

Were you divorced before 1 January 2020 and:

  • Did your marriage last longer than 5 years? Then the maximum maintenance period is 12 years.
  • Did your marriage last less than 5 years and you do not have children together? Then the duration of spousal maintenance is equal to the duration of the marriage.

Were you divorced after 1 January 2020 and:

  • Do not have children together? Then the duration of spousal maintenance is half the duration of the marriage, with a maximum of 5 years.
  • Do you have children together? In that case, spousal maintenance will continue until the youngest child turns 12.
  • Have you been married for more than 15 years and you will reach retirement age within 10 years? Then the spousal maintenance will stop when the pension starts.
  • Have you been married for more than 15 years and were you born on or before 1 January 1970? Then the spousal maintenance duration is a maximum of 10 years.

How do I avoid overpaying spousal maintenance?

Your ex-partner and you can agree together on the amount of spousal maintenance, possibly with the help of a lawyer or mediator. In doing so, you can keep in mind that you will not overpay spousal maintenance. Are your ex-partner and you not getting along? The court will determine the amount if you and your ex-partner cannot agree. The judge does this on the basis of guidelines called Trema Normen.

Have you been paying spousal maintenance for some time and has the situation changed, causing you to pay too much spousal maintenance? For example, has your ex-partner’s income increased or has your income decreased? You can do a recalculation and make new arrangements with your ex-partner. Record these agreements, a new agreement or amended covenant. This does not require you to go to a judge or lawyer. Are you unable to reach new agreements together or does your ex-partner disagree with the changed situation? Then go to a lawyer. The lawyer will also try to make new agreements with your ex-partner. If that doesn’t work, the lawyer will assist you in taking the matter to court. In that case, the lawyer first looks at whether the change is such that the judge will take up your case. The judge will look at your capacity and at what your ex-partner needs. It is crucial that it is not your fault your capacity has been reduced. For example, if you have decided to work less or to stop working? A judge will not agree with the adjustment of the spousal maintenance and the original amount will remain.

Is spousal maintenance deductible?

If you pay spousal maintenance, this amount is deductible for income tax purposes. But note: Do you earn €68,507 or more? If so, you can deduct less and less spousal support from your taxes since 2020. Starting in 2023, spousal maintenance will be deductible at a rate of 37.05%.

Can I stop spousal maintenance if my ex has a new partner?

Has your ex-partner a new relationship? The spousal maintenance obligation still applies. So in that case, you cannot stop paying spousal support. However, the right to spousal maintenance does lapse if your ex-partner starts living with, gets married to, or enters into a registered partnership with a new partner. Then, you can then stop paying spousal maintenance. If your ex-partner denies that he/she lives with a new partner, it is up to you to prove the case.

What if my ex-partner stops paying spousal maintenance?

If your partner stopped paying spousal maintenance. You can ask the LBIO – Landelijk Bureau Inning Onderhoudsbijdragen (National Bureau for Collection of Maintenance Contributions) for help under the following circumstances:

  • The court has determined spousal maintenance.
  • There are at least 1 month’s payment arrears.
  • At least € 10 has not yet been paid.
  • The backlog is no older than 6 months.
  • Your ex-partner knows which account number the spousal maintenance should be transferred to.

The LBIO will collect the spousal maintenance from your ex-partner and pay it to you. For this purpose, the LBIO has the option, for example, of garnishing your ex-partner’s salary. Of course, costs are incurred for this. These costs will be recovered from your ex-partner. If you have written agreements about partner alimony and your ex-partner does not pay, make sure these agreements are recorded in court.