Quicker end to marital captivity

Minister Dekker (for Legal Protection) is changing the law to allow marital captivity to be ended sooner. The amendments will clarify the legislation and will make it easier for the court to take care of both the divorce and the dissolution of the religious marriage within single proceedings, according to a legislative proposal that was submitted to the House of Representatives. Marital captivity refers to a situation in which someone is kept in a marriage, on a religious basis or otherwise, against their will, because they are unable to obtain a dissolution of marriage. 

The court can already order a party to cooperate with the dissolution of a religious marriage or add this as ancillary relief in divorce proceedings However, whether the court will hear a petition for an ancillary relief will soon no longer be dependent on whether this may lead to a delay in the divorce proceedings, as is currently the case. This will lead to speedier resolutions and allow spouses to get on with their lives.

Practice shows that a delay in the divorce proceedings currently still leads to a second visit to the court whenever the spouse must be forced to cooperate with the dissolution of the religious marriage. This presents an additional obstacle for the victim of marital captivity, which the Minister seeks to avoid. The court will therefore be given the authority to settle these matters more easily within single proceedings. Moreover, the court may also be asked to dissolve a religious marriage in the absence of a civil marriage.

The obligation of parties in a religious marriage to cooperate with a religious divorce, in principle, will also be laid down by law.


'It is clear what the standard should be. Everyone should have the freedom to obtain a divorce and continue their lives separately. This applies to a civil marriage as well as to a religious marriage, regardless of whether the latter is in addition to a civil marriage. It should not be possible for one spouse to limit their partner's freedom in this regard.'
In the eyes of the religious or social community in which they live, spouses often remain married, even if their civil marriage has been dissolved. This can have consequences for people when they try to remarry, for instance, or when they want to move abroad with their children or a new partner.

'Such a state of affairs is undesirable.'

says Dekker.