ACCESS NL > Relocating to the Netherlands > Legal matters in the Netherlands > Divorce in the Netherlands > What do we need to do to legally get divorced?
Divorce in the Netherlands
What is the applicable law in a divorce proceeding between spouses of different nationalities?
What is the jurisdiction of the Dutch Court in case of a divorce?
What do we need to do to legally get divorced?
In the Netherlands, all cases of echtscheiding (divorce) have to be granted by the court. Since only a lawyer has the authority to file a petition for divorce with the court, the first thing that you can do is to seek legal advice from a good divorce lawyer or mediator.
According to the Dutch law, there is just one ground for divorce: irreparable breakdown of the marriage. The marriage can be said to have irreparably broken down if continuing to live together has become unbearable and there is no prospect of a restoration of marital relations. The judge is not interested in the question of blame at all. The behaviour that has led to the divorce has no influence on the decision as to how the assets should be split or how much alimony should be paid.
The divorce proceedings may be instituted by both spouses jointly (a joint petition) or by just one of them (a unilateral petition), and a divorce petition may be filed at any time after marriage: there is no requirement for the parties to have been married for a certain number of years or to have lived separately for a certain number of years.
If the divorce is by mutual request, is uncontested it is not necessary for you to go to court physically. The divorce settlement can be drawn up by a lawyer or a mediator, signed by both partners and sent to the court for authorisation via a lawyer, which is almost always given if both partners have signed the agreement. If you have children younger than 18 years, a parenting plan is a requirement. Furthermore, children from the age of 12 years have the right to be heard by the court. So even if you have a divorce with a mutual request and it is not necessary for you to go the court, children of 12 years and older will receive an invitation from the court to be heard.
If only one of you wishes to end the relationship, or you are not agreeing on topics regarding your divorce, there is a great chance that you have to go to court physically.
The divorce comes into effect when the court ruling has been entered in the Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages of your municipality by either you or your lawyer. This has to be done six months after the court ruling, it is not open for appeal anymore.