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Divorce in the Netherlands: When can you claim partner alimony?

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Divorce and partner alimony are two topics that often come up at the same time. When you divorce, the consideration must be made whether one of the partners is entitled to maintenance. This contribution is known as partner alimony (or partner maintenance).

Partner alimony is determined by several factors: the need of the maintenance creditor (the person who needs partner alimony), the amount required to meet the maintenance creditor’s needs, and the capacity of the person liable for maintenance (the person who will pay the partner alimony).

What not many people know is that partner alimony is not only an obligation in the event of a divorce. This is also the case with the dissolution of a registered partnership.

For cohabitants, unless other agreements have been made in a cohabitation agreement, no claim can be made for partner alimony.

The 12-year alimony period is over

Until now, the maximum duration for paying partner alimony was set at 12 years. With effect from 1 January 2020, the new rule is as follows: the duration of the obligation to pay partner alimony is limited to half the duration of the marriage, with a maximum of 5 years. Naturally, there are a few exceptions.

How is partner alimony determined?

If both parties have agreed on the amount of the partner alimony to be paid, this can be recorded in a divorce agreement. This divorce agreement will then be submitted to the court together with the petition for divorce.

If the parties cannot agree on the amount of the partner alimony to be paid, then when a unilateral petition for divorce is submitted, an amount of partner alimony can also be requested. The other party may then respond by means of a statement of defence. The court will ultimately assess whether the person liable for alimony will have to pay and, if so, the amount to be paid.

If it cannot be demonstrated that the maintenance creditor has a need for partner alimony, or if the person liable for maintenance does not have the capacity to pay the requested partner alimony, the court will reject the request.

A lawyer is required to submit a petition for divorce.

Statutory indexation

Once partner alimony has been set, whether in a divorce agreement, in collaboration or by the court, the alimony amount will be increased annually. This is the so-called annual statutory indexation. Each year, the justice ministry determines the alimony index. For 2020, the percentage has been set at 2.5%.

The person who pays partner alimony has to adjust the amount themselves without a request from the entitled party. However, it is advisable to remind your ex-spouse in time.

No statutory indexation

It is possible that statutory indexation has been excluded in the divorce agreement. If this is the case, the partner alimony will not be increased annually.

Changes of the partner alimony

A determined or agreed partner alimony can be changed in certain situations. This can only be changed if there is a so-called “change of circumstances”. This can be, for example, a change in income or to the family situation.

If it is not possible to change the amount to be paid in partner alimony through mutual consultation, a petition can be submitted to the court. A lawyer is required to submit such a petition.

How we can help

It is important that the amount of partner alimony to be paid is correctly calculated by a specialist. Our team of family lawyers are experts in partner alimony. They can of course be of service to you with this.

Should you have any questions or wish further legal advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us on (0)70 3615048 or via our website

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