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Legal matters

Divorce

In the Netherlands, three kinds of living arrangements are regulated by law: marriage, registered partnership and legal cohabitation. Registered partnerships and legal cohabitation are contractual agreements. When it comes to ending the relationship, the rules are different in each case. In a divorce, property has to be divided up, and agreements have to be made about maintenance and pension. If there are children, good arrangements have to be made about their care and upbringing.

Divorce and separation

In the Netherlands, there are three different ways of ending a marriage:

  • A divorce (echtscheiding) terminates the marriage. All legal ties between the partners are severed.
  • In a legal separation (scheiding van tafel en bed), you remain legally married although certain rights and obligations associated with marriage no longer apply.
  • If a marriage is dissolved (ontbinding) after a legal separation, it is definitively ended and the legal ties between the two partners are severed.

For all types of separation or divorce, the partners must submit an application to the court through a lawyer.

Termination of registered partnership

A registered partnership may end because one or both partners want to revoke the registration. If there are no children, this can be done without going to court. The partners draw up and conclude an agreement. The lawyer or notary declares that such an agreement had been conducted, after which this agreement is recorded in the Register of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships. If there are children, the same procedure applies as in the case of a divorce. The partners are obliged to draw up a parenting plan. Regarding maintenance and pension, the same rules also apply to the end of a registered partnership as to divorce.

Ending a relationship where there is no cohabitation agreement

If you live together without a cohabitation agreement and you split up, you have to make agreements about the house, the inventory and the shared property. People living together without a contract are not obliged to support each other. This means that neither partner is entitled to claim maintenance.

Divorce and children

In the Netherlands, parents who get divorced while their children are minors have a legal obligation to submit a parenting plan to the court with agreements about the children. The plan states:

  • how the parents will share responsibility for the care and upbringing of their children
  • how parents should inform and consult each other about important decisions such as the choice of school
  • how the expenses related to the child or children are to be shared, and the amount of maintenance that is to be paid for the children
  • that the parents must also discuss the children’s wishes: they can discuss the parenting plan together, or alternatively they can use the services of a lawyer or mediator.