Divorcing a foreign citizen in the Netherlands

Do you want to divorce your foreign citizen partner in the Netherlands? This is only possible if you or your partner lives in the Netherlands. You can file for divorce to the court. It is compulsory to hire a lawyer to do this.

Last updated on 22 August 2022

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Different rules for ending a civil partnership with a non-Dutch partner in the Netherlands

This page contains information about divorcing a foreign citizen partner in the Netherlands. Are you not married but have entered a civil partnership with a partner who does not hold Dutch citizenship? Then different rules apply to ending a civil partnership with a foreign partner in the Netherlands. Depending on your situation, you have to arrange this with the ambtenaar van de burgerlijke stand (Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships) or with the court.

Conditions for divorce in the Netherlands

You can divorce your foreign citizen partner in the Netherlands if:

  • you and your partner both live in the Netherlands.
  • you live in the Netherlands and your partner lives outside the Netherlands;
  • your partner lives in the Netherlands and you live outside the Netherlands;

Do you and your foreign citizen partner both live outside the Netherlands? Then you cannot divorce your foreign citizen partner in the Netherlands.

Joint or unilateral application for divorce

You and your partner can file for divorce jointly in the Netherlands. Or you or your partner can file for divorce unilaterally. This means that only 1 of the partners files the divorce application. However, there are rules for unilateral filing:

  • Does the applicant hold Dutch citizenship? If so, the applicant must have lived in the Netherlands for at least 6 months at the time of the application.
  • Does the applicant not hold Dutch citizenship? In that case, the applicant must have been living in the Netherlands for at least 12 months when the application was submitted.

These time limits do not apply if you are submitting a joint application or if your partner lives in the Netherlands

Your partner has already filed for divorce outside the Netherlands

Has your partner already applied for a divorce outside the Netherlands? Did your partner do so before you filed for divorce in the Netherlands? Then you can no longer arrange for a divorce ending a civil partnership in the Netherlands. The Dutch court will decline jurisdiction in favour of the court outside the Netherlands. 

If you want to divorce a foreign partner, get legal advice in all countries that are involved. This could be the Netherlands, but also the country of your foreign partner. Or your own country, if you are not from the Netherlands. Each country has their own conditions for Family Law and these can vary greatly.

Residency in the Netherlands after divorce

Do you not hold Dutch citizenship? Are you living in the Netherlands with a verblijfsvergunning (residence permit) obtained through your relationship? If so, your residence permit may expire if you get divorced.

Do you wish to continue living in the Netherlands after your divorce or ending of your civil partnership? Then you need to apply for a new residence permit or change your residence purpose. Do you hold citizenship of a Member State of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA)? Then you do not need to apply for a residence permit.

Do you want to change your residence purpose? Then contact the Immigratie- en Naturalisatie Dienst – IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service).

Court ruling on conditions of divorce

Can you and your partner not agree on the terms of the divorce? Then the Dutch court can also rule on other matters, for example:

  • Agreements about your children. Where the children will live, for example;
  • How much partner and child support you or your partner will have to pay;
  • How your finances and debts will be divided.

Not all countries recognise divorce or ending of a civil partnership

Not all countries recognise a divorce in another country. For example some countries outside the EU require a divorce to be granted by a religious court. Some countries require both applicants to be present at the hearing.

The Netherlands recognises marriage and civil partnership between same-sex couples. Some countries do not. In that case, other countries may not recognise a divorce between same-sex couples either.

Submitting a petition for divorce

You can submit your petition for divorce (in Dutch) to the district court. You will need a lawyer to do this. You can hire a lawyer or you and your partner can share a lawyer.

Recognition of divorce abroad in the Netherlands

Have you filed for divorce outside the Netherlands? Then this will be recognised in the Netherlands if:

There was a fair trial; for example, both partners must have been sufficiently heard. 

There is a ruling from a competent judge or other authority.

The municipality will assess your foreign documents for your divorce. Did you divorce in a country outside the EU? Then you must first have the documents legalised in the country where your divorce was granted. After legalisation, your document will be ready for use in the Netherlands or at an embassy or consulate of the Netherlands elsewhere.

Divorcing or ending a civil partnership outside of the Netherlands

Are you a citizen or resident of the Netherlands, and do you want to divorce outside of the Netherlands? Find information at nederlandwereldwijd.nl on filing for divorce outside the Netherlands (in Dutch). There is also information in English on individual country requirements for divorce on the netherlandsworldwide.nl website.

Laws and regulations (in Dutch)

Burgerlijk Wetboek Boek 1 (ontbinding van het huwelijk)

Wetboek van Burgerlijke Rechtsvordering

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