Brexit and divorce in The Netherlands

With the withdrawal bill on the 31st of January everything changed for British citizens within the EU, or did it? This article describes the probable effects of Brexit on getting a divorce in The Netherlands after full UK withdrawal from the EU.

First of all, Brexit is still in transition with a no-deal Brexit still possible at the end of 2020. However, as things stand now (February 2020), British citizens still have full rights as (ex-) EU citizens living in The Netherlands.

Jurisdiction after Brexit

Whatever happens, in The Netherlands not much will change post Brexit when it comes to divorce. The Dutch courts will continue to apply uniform EU jurisdiction rules to divorces.

This means UK citizens will still be entitled to divorce in the Netherlands in the following circumstances:

  • Both spouses are officially resident in The Netherlands at the time of divorce;
  • The Netherlands was the last common domicile of both spouses and one spouse is still resident in The Netherlands;
  • Parties are jointly petitioning for divorce and one of the spouses is currently resident in The Netherlands;
  • The spouse petitioning for divorce has been resident in The Netherlands for a year prior to the divorce petition.

Applicable law

Again not a lot will change. The Dutch courts will continue to apply international private law to various aspects of the divorce, such as marital property, child custody, child and spousal maintenance and pensions.

For example, if you were married in the UK and your first residence after your wedding was in the UK, then the Dutch courts will still apply UK law to the division of your marital property. But equally, if you are UK citizens married in The Netherlands while living in The Netherlands, then Dutch law is usually applicable to your marital property. See our article on dividing marital property in The Netherlands for more information.

What difference will Brexit make then?

Where Brexit may make a difference is whether Dutch divorce judgements will still be fully recognised in the UK once negotiations have ended. However, our expectation is that UK and Dutch law will remain closely aligned when it comes to family law. The general principles remain similar in many cases. For example, gay marriage is recognised in both jurisdictions (including Northern Ireland in recent months).

Also, the UK is a signatory to various treaties, which are independent of the EU and will remain valid even if no new arrangements are made with the EU. Child abduction to The Netherlands or the UK is covered by one of these child protection treaties. Child and spousal maintenance can also still be collected in The Netherlands or visa versa based on an existing international treaty.

Immigration status after divorce

What we don’t know currently is the future immigration status of UK nationals without settled status. In case of a no-deal Brexit at a later stage spouses that have recently moved to The Netherlands may or may not automatically qualify for permanent residence after divorce. Certain extra requirements may apply. More up to date information about the effects of Brexit can be found on the Dutch immigration authorities website here.

If you have any questions regarding divorcing in The Netherlands and Brexit, please contact us:

Brexit and divorce in The Netherlands

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