Divorce as an expat in the Netherlands

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Divorce as an expat in the Netherlands

Divorce is always profound. It can be one of the most emotional events in a person’s life because the future is suddenly in doubt. This is especially true if you are an expat or international living abroad, or if you are a foreign expat or international living in the Netherlands. What are the consequences of an international divorce? Will you or part of your family go home? And what are the options for divorce at all? In which country should it be done? Which laws apply? And what are the possible consequences for your finances, living arrangements and residence status?

Simmelink Attorneys and Mediators assist expats and internationals in matters of international family law and inheritance law. We work for foreign expats residing in the Netherlands and Dutch nationals living and working abroad.

Our attorneys and mediators can assist in the following matters:

  • prenuptial agreements
  • divorce
  • spousal maintenance
  • child maintenance
  • division of assets
  • custody and access
  • inheritance law

For an appointment you are welcome at our offices in Maarssen – Utrecht or Amsterdam, but video calling (via a secure connection) is also among the possibilities. If desired, we can combine physical appointments and video calls. Together, we can make a choice that best suits your situation. Our quality and personal contact is guaranteed wherever you live, in the Netherlands or abroad.

Which law applies to my divorce?

Suppose you are getting divorced and international aspects, such as a residence or domicile abroad or a partner with foreign nationality, come into play. In that case, it is important to first investigate in which country or countries you can divorce. For example, does the Dutch court have jurisdiction or do you need to be at the court abroad? It is also essential to find out which law applies, not only to divorce, but also to other topics such as custody and access, spousal and child support and the division of assets, real estate and pensions.

In some cases, the Dutch court has jurisdiction to handle the divorce but you are obliged to bring the agreements about children or alimony to a foreign court. It is also possible that both Dutch law and the law of another country apply. You can read more about it here.

Expat & divorce in the Netherlands: a step-by-step plan

To bring transparency to the international divorce process, we have provided a clear step-by-step plan.

Introduction meeting

In the first non-binding introductory meeting, we delve into your situation and discuss the following topics:

  • What kind of relationship do you have? Did you live together unmarried? Were you married with the community of property or with a prenuptial agreement?
  • How do you want to divorce? Each your own lawyer or with a common lawyer or (lawyer-)mediator?
  • For foreign expats living in the Netherlands: how long have you been here?
  • Where do you want to live after the divorce?
  • Do you have minor children? And where will they live?
  • Are you an entrepreneur or an employee?
  • What are your assets and debts?

Which court has jurisdiction and which law applies?

Next, we determine which court or courts have jurisdiction to handle the various parts of the divorce and which law applies. And which law applies.

We cannot assist you if the Dutch court does not have jurisdiction or if you choose to litigate abroad. However, we are happy to support you as an independent advisor.

Begin the mediation or divorce proceedings

Is the Dutch court competent? Then we start the mediation or – if you each have your own lawyer – the divorce proceedings. We accompany you during the legal settlement of your divorce.

Divorce in the Netherlands

If you file for divorce in the Netherlands, the Dutch law applies to the divorce. The only condition for divorce in the Netherlands is that the relationship has to be permanently disrupted. It means that when you file for divorce, you state that you no longer want to be married. In order to dissolve a marriage in the Netherlands, however, it is important that there is a legally valid marriage.

Do I have to be a Dutch national?

To divorce in the Netherlands, you must have Dutch nationality. Don’t you have Dutch citizenship? Then you must live in the Netherlands to have your divorce handled by the Dutch court. 

For example: you have a Dutch nationality and your partner has a French nationality. We can assist you with the divorce in the Netherlands, if you or your partner are registered in the Netherlands.

Divorcing abroad as an expat

If you are an expat seeking a divorce abroad, you should be aware that different regulations apply abroad. First, prenuptial agreements made in the Netherlands are not accepted by foreign judges. Also, different regulations apply abroad regarding property law. In addition, there may have been a difference in the legal status of children born abroad compared to those who moved with the parents. Finally, alimony rules are very different abroad than in the Netherlands.


Our clients give us 5-star ratings. They appreciate the quality of our advice, our expertise, the personal involvement of the attorneys and the clear communication. We often hear that they should have taken the step to our office much earlier. We are very proud of this!

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Auteur: Carla Simmelink

Carla Simmelink is advocaat en eigenaar van Advocatenkantoor Simmelink. Haar specialisaties zijn: familierecht, naamrecht en erfrecht in Nederlandse en internationale kwesties. Carla is een betrokken, geïnteresseerde gesprekspartner en gaat voor het beste resultaat. Pragmatisch en doelmatig behartigt zij uw belangen.

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