Susan MeijlerThe globalisation of our world makes international relationships easier. This leads to more international marriages, which in turn leads to more divorces with international aspects. These complications often take the divorcing parties by surprise.
When people go through the difficulty of a divorce, they normally would prefer to arrange the divorce in their home country, where they are familiar with the laws.
In an international marriage that is not always possible. For example, if a French woman is married to a German man, and they live in the Netherlands, both parties might like to arrange the consequences of the divorce in their own country. However, this is not possible due to the European Guideline, which determines which court is competent. In this case, the divorce must be handled by the Dutch court system.
The content of divorce law varies with each country. In the Netherlands, a divorce can be granted on the grounds that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. There is little the spouse can do to stop the judge from pronouncing the divorce. In Belgium, as in many US states, the law demands a specific reason for a divorce. This can for example be abuse, maltreatment, adultery, etc. In Malta it is not possible to divorce at all!
Different countries also have various rules about the time line of the divorce procedure. In the Netherlands a divorce can be requested at any time. In Ireland, their Divorce Act requires that you must live apart for at least four out of five years before proceedings are issued.
The question of blame is sometimes a big issue for the divorcing couple. In the Netherlands however, the judge is not interested in this aspect of the private relationship. The behaviour that has led to the divorce has no influence on the decision on how the assets should be split or how much alimony should be paid. By contrast, Belgian law states that if adultery is proven, the adulterous spouse loses the right to collect alimony. In the United States, a judge recently ruled that the wife was entitled to one hundred percent of the couple’s marital property because her husband had verbally and physically abused her.
To prevent unpleasant surprises, my advice to all international couples who are considering a divorce is to inform themselves about the legal consequences that the internationality of their relationship would have on a possible divorce.
For more information, contact us at the telephone number mentioned below or go to the English version of our website at .
Susan Meijler
070 – 3615048