Divorce for expats (in English)

15 december 2022

It sounds so wonderful, exciting and romantic: one of you is offered a good job as an expat abroad and you are going to move with your (often young) family. Often, it all goes well but the situation can also become very difficult. Life as an expat family is quite complex and a divorce is always very impactful.

Specialising in expats - divorce issues

It sounds so wonderful, exciting and romantic: one of you is offered a good job as an expat abroad and you are going to move with your (often young) family. Often, it all goes well but the situation can also become very difficult. Life as an expat family is quite complex and a divorce is always very impactful. For instance, it is a familiar pattern for one partner to be completely absorbed in their work and career. The other one ends up staying home most of the time, especially if there are young children. No work, few social contacts, alone in a foreign country, lonely, homesick. This often puts a lot of pressure on the relationship. Eventually, the bubble can burst, leading to divorce.

No matter how well prepared the move abroad is, this is probably not the kind of situation you ever thought about at all during the euphoria of the big move.

Life as an expat family is quite complex and divorce is always very impactful. The combination of the two is almost always incredibly complicated.

Jacolien Kulk Mediation specialises in these issues

It is difficult to be very specific in this blog, because the circumstances of each case can vary enormously. What countries are involved? Are you going back to your home country? Or is one of you? Or, conversely, are you both staying? Are there (minor) children involved? And so on. If you are dealing with a divorce in an expat situation, it is wise to make an appointment with us soon. Ideally, of course, you can visit us for advice in advance once you have concrete plans to move abroad.

 

I will touch on a few important general issues in this blog, though:

  • It is important to first carefully consider together whether you want to start divorce proceedings. Settling things by mutual agreement can often work well. A court ruling is uncertain for both parties, and you are stuck with it, whether you are happy with it or not.
  • Expats sometimes have more opportunities to influence the outcome of a divorce. This is because there is often the choice: where will the proceedings take place, and therefore, which law will apply?
  • Particularly in a contentious divorce, partners will be guided by self-interest: which country has the most favourable arrangement for me? Once that is clear, it can be very advantageous to start the proceedings in the country of choice first. That will then usually be given priority. The differences between countries are sometimes very unexpected in certain areas, and can also be quite major. For example, when it comes to spousal maintenance. Even per subject matter, the applicable law can differ, for that matter. A Dutch court, for example, often has to apply foreign law on certain parts in divorce proceedings.
  • Expats often have a different matrimonial property position. For example, prenuptial agreements made in the Netherlands are not accepted by many judges abroad. For expats living in the Netherlands, the number of years they have been here may determine what rules are applicable.
  • Do you have (minor) children? Then several things need to be arranged. Where will they live most of the time, what will the care arrangement look like, what will the costs be and who contributes what? And so on.
  • Keep in mind that after a divorce involving children, you often cannot return to your home country without consultation. If your ex-partner also has some authority over your children, he or she will have to give permission. Otherwise, it may just be considered abduction of the children, which will obviously lead to all sorts of undesirable consequences.

 

It is quite clear: the divorce issue for expats is really incredibly complex.
Whether you have come to the Netherlands from abroad or vice versa, it is almost impossible to solve this on your own.

That is why you should seek advice or help from the expert in this field: Jacolien Kulk Mediation.

You can always contact her for a no obligation orientation meeting.

03 februari 2022

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