International divorce

Divorces and family law proceedings involve international aspects fairly quickly. This may be the case if you are married abroad, such as in the Maldives or Las Vegas, or if your child is born abroad while you are there for work. It also plays a role when partners or parents have different nationalities, or when non-Dutch citizens live in the Netherlands.”

you and/or your partner live abroad;
the spouses are foreign nationals;
the minor children live with a parent abroad;
you got married abroad;
You have assets abroad with your partner.

Read a recent case from our international practice here. It concerns an international divorce of a family where members live in the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, and South Africa both during and after the divorce. Another situation involves a family that moved to live in the United States but eventually divorces in the Netherlands.

Applying for an international divorce

In the case of an international divorce, specific rules and treaties apply to the foreign marriage, the divorce, the alimony, and the custody. Also consider real estate or the holiday home, the pension and the interaction with the children when parents live in different countries.

Click here to learn more about applying for an international divorce at our firm.

Our advice on international divorce, alimony, and custody

  • Guidance in the divorce process:
    The divorce itself, child support and/or spousal maintenance, the residence, the pension, division of assets, custody and visitation arrangements with the children;
  • Independent advice or second opinion.
    We can explore the options for you to determine the best choices in your situation. We can also advise on the implications of certain decisions during a divorce proceeding or mediation.
  • Comparitive law.
    In certain cases, mulitple judges from different countries may have jurisdiction to handle your case. We can advise you on which country is best to conduct the divorce proceedings and what the impact on the alimony would be;
  • Does the Dutch court have jurisdiction?
    Which law applies to the case to be brought before the court?
  • Legal opinion.
    We advise foreign lawyers on Dutch family law, such as the applicability of prenuptial agreements or the validity of a registered partnership.

We are lawyers specialized in international family law

Do you have questions about a (international) divorce, division of marital assets, spousal maintenance or child support, or other family law issues? Or do you want to divorce your untraceable (foreign) partner? We have over 15 years of experience in Dutch and international family law and can often answer your questions immediately.

If you live farther away or abroad, we can also assist you remotely through an online divorce with video calling. Wherever you live in the Netherlands or abroad, our quality and personal contact are guaranteed. You are, of course, also welcome at our law firm in Maarssen – Utrecht.

Wilt u een afspraak of meer weten?

Een eerste intakegesprek en evaluatie van uw zaak zijn altijd kosteloos. In dit gesprek bespreken we uw situatie, verkennen we de mogelijke opties en geven we een indicatie van de verwachte kosten. Ons doel is volledige transparantie, zodat u niet voor onaangename verrassingen komt te staan.

When is it considered international divorce or foreign divorce?

An international divorce is applicable if there are international aspects involved in the marriage :

  • you and/or your (former) partner live abroad;
  • You live or work as a foreigner in the Netherlands (expat);
  • you and/or your partner have foreign nationality;
  • the minor children live with a parent abroad;
  • you got married abroad;
  • You are married to a partner who does not have Dutch nationality;
  • you have assets abroad with your partner
  • pension has been accrued abroad during the marriage

We cannot   assist you as a lawyer for proceedings in the Netherlands if the Dutch court does not have jurisdiction

In a situation like the following, we cannot represent you as an attorney for a procedure in the Netherlands:

  • Child support was determined by the court in Switzerland at the mother’s request for the minor children. The father lives in the Netherlands and disagrees and wants to appeal. In this situation, the Dutch court does not have jurisdiction; the procedure to appeal must take place in a Swiss court. You may need a Swiss lawyer for this.
  • A mother, living in the Netherlands, wants a visitation arrangement with the children who live with their father in the United Kingdom. The father does not want to cooperate. In that case, the Dutch court has no jurisdiction to make a decision. The courts in England will have to be involved for this purpose. As Dutch lawyers, we cannot litigate on your behalf in the United Kingdom.

However, we can assist you with impartial advice, leveraging our extensive international expertise in international family and personal law, as well as private international law.

Determining the jurisdiction of the Dutch court.

When international aspects are involved, such as residence or domicile abroad or a partner with foreign nationality, we first examine which court of which country has jurisdiction or which courts of which countries have jurisdiction.
If the Dutch court has jurisdiction, the divorce, including a request for spousal maintenance or child support, can be handled by a Dutch court, for example. Read more about Which court has jurisdiction in an international divorce.

As Dutch citizens, you can divorce abroad

If you or your partner live abroad and both of you hold Dutch nationality, you can apply a request for divorce with a Dutch court. It is possible even if you both reside abroad.

We have extensive experience in handling divorces remotely, providing you with advice and managing your divorce. We make use of email and video meetings such as Microsoft Teams for this purpose.

The quality and personal contact are guaranteed, and your privacy is maintained because we work with high-security measures.

Divorce from untraceable foreign partner

If you want to divorce in the Netherlands from your foreign partner to dissolve the marriage with a foreign partner whose place of residence or address is not known, you must submit a unilateral divorce petition to the court.

Marital property: community of property or prenuptial agreement

The Netherlands is a party to various treaties concerning international aspects applicable to marital property. If spouses or registered partners have not entered into a prenuptial agreement, and international aspects apply, it is important to know during which period they got married:

  • the marriage occurred after Sept. 1, 1992, and before Jan. 29, 2019;
  • the marriage was contracted on or after Jan. 29, 2019.

Want to know more? In that case, please read the page on applicable marital property law in international aspects, where we delve into more detail on the international aspects of:

  • community of property;
  • limited community of property;
  • prenuptial agreement.

Frequently asked questions about international divorce

Is the Dutch divorce valid abroad?

After the judge has pronounced the divorce, the divorce must be registered with the civil registry of the municipality of The Hague. From the moment of registration, you are officially divorced. Subsequently, you will still need to process your divorce abroad. In countries that are parties to the Brussels IIbis Convention, the divorce will be recognized (and valid). In other countries it will be different again and sometimes another court proceeding will be necessary.

Is a foreign marriage valid in the Netherlands?

ls your marriage took place abroad then it is wise and also mandatory to register the marriage in the marriage register of the municipality of The Hague. Dutch law clearly states which foreign marriages are recognized. The municipality is the body that registers foreign marriage registrations.

The advantage of registering your marriage with the municipality of The Hague is that in the event of a divorce, you do not have to request a copy of the marriage certificate in the country where you were married. With foreign marriages, this can sometimes be a complicated and lengthy procedure.

Can the divorce take place in a language other than Dutch?

To divorce in the Netherlands, you need to not to speak Dutch or be proficient in the language. However, all official documents for the courts in the Netherlands must be written in Dutch or Frisian. The working language during oral proceedings at the court is also in Dutch or Frisian. At the hearing, a judge is sometimes willing to address the hearing in English. To be sure, it is better to have an interpreter (by telephone) present during the hearing.
Our office can conduct all contacts or meetings in English. We make sure everything is clear to you. For other languages, it is recommended that an interpreter be present (by phone) during the interviews. The letters or documents can then be translated into the other language before it is sent to the other party or the court, for example.

How long does the procedure of an international divorce take?

The divorce proceedings take at least three weeks. In complex cases, which require a court decision and an oral hearing, proceedings can take up to more than 1 year.
In an international divorce, the case takes longer than in a “normal divorce” if you cannot agree together on the issues to be settled and the court must make decisions about them. For example, the defendant living abroad is not given six weeks to respond in writing to the petition for divorce, but three months.

Do you need to come or live in the Netherlands for a divorce?

If you live abroad, to file for divorce or defend the divorce or the relief requested, you need to not to come to the Netherlands if you and your partner have Dutch nationality. If you have Dutch nationality and your future ex-partner does not, you cannot file for divorce until after you have been registered in the Netherlands for at least six months. For non-Nationals, the minimum term is one year.

We have extensive experience with modern forms of video meetings such as Skype, Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. Whether you live in the Netherlands or abroad; our quality and personal contact remain guaranteed. Of course, you are also welcome to visit our law office in Maarssen – Utrecht.

Foto van auteur

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.

Bezoek de biografiepagina van

Carla Simmelink

voor het CV.