Divorce from a partner who lives abroad

10 / 09 / 2018 Alexander Leuftink

A divorce from a partner who lives abroad is quite frequent, as there are more and more international marriages. It may happen that a spouse returns to the country of origin after termination of the relationship. Another example is that one of the spouses is living in another country as an expat. When can you divorce from a partner who lives abroad and which conditions do you have to meet?


If both you and your partner have Dutch nationality, in principle there is no obstacle for you to start a divorce procedure in the Netherlands, irrespective whether or not you are living in the Netherlands. However, if either one of you does not have Dutch nationality, then different conditions apply to be able to divorce in the Netherlands from a partner who lives abroad.

Do you want to file a joint application for divorce? Then the most important condition is that in any case one of the spouses is living in the Netherlands.

In the event of a unilateral divorce it is also relevant how long you have been living in the Netherlands. If you have Dutch nationality, you must have lived in the Netherlands at least six months before filing the application for a divorce. If you do not have Dutch nationality, this term is twelve months.


There are several exceptions to the conditions above. For example, the Dutch court can still consider itself to be competent if you both live in the Philippines and only one of you has Dutch nationality, as it is still not possible to divorce in the Philippines. You should therefore always seek advice from a experienced divorce lawyer in case of an international divorce.

Dutch law

If you file an application for divorce in the Netherlands, Dutch law will apply to the divorce itself. The sole ground that must be met to be able to divorce in the Netherlands is irretrievable breakdown. This means that the applicant should argue that he or she believes that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. In fact this means that it is sufficient if you state that you no longer want to be married. In order to be able to dissolve a marriage in the Netherlands, there must be a valid marriage.

We wrote about this earlier in the following articles:

Maintenance, parental authority and distribution of matrimonial property

Many different subjects may be addressed with a divorce, such as the determination of partner or child maintenance, making a care arrangement if children are involved, and the distribution or settlement of the matrimonial property. In the event of an international divorce, the law of another state may apply per subject. Which law applies in your situation may, inter alia, depend on the nationality or your and/or your (ex-)partner’s place of residence.

Divorce lawyer

If you have any questions about an international divorce or if you want to know how we can help you, please contact us for a meeting with LINK Advocaten.

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