14 August 2012

Legal opinion in family law

By Susan Meijler

GMW lawyers has an international practice and serves clients across the globe.

Cross-border cooperation in the practice of law is reflected in the growing number of divorce cases with an international dimension that are handled by our Family Law department. I represent expats, for example, who want to arrange their divorce in the Netherlands, or who are forced to do so by their spouse.

Dutch citizens abroad

I regularly represent Dutch citizens who are engaged in divorce proceedings in another country. Sometimes the proceedings are conducted in the Netherlands as well as abroad. This can happen when a Dutch court does not have jurisdiction in respect of all aspects of the proceedings. A Dutch married couple living with their children in France can file for divorce in the Netherlands, but a court in this country does not have jurisdiction to make provisions for the children (with regard to access or visitation rights, for example). If the parties are unable to reach agreement among themselves in this regard, they will have to take action in France. In the interest of coherence (for the broader context of the divorce), it may be advisable to maintain good contacts with the other lawyer, in France for example. We advise and consult one another. This cooperation is not only interesting and instructive, but also extremely valuable to the client. I am firmly convinced this brings added value. Dutch nationals who divorce abroad are therefore well advised (under certain circumstances) to consult a Dutch lawyer, also with a view to the question of whether foreign rulings or judgments can be recognised in the Netherlands.

Foreign lawyers

I also regularly write legal opinions for lawyers in other countries. During divorce proceedings conducted abroad, for example, it may be found that certain aspects of the divorce, such as those relating to matrimonial property law, are subject to Dutch law. The same may also be true in reverse in the Netherlands. The regulations pertaining to private international law of each country determine which law is applicable to the various aspects of the divorce. I am therefore often contacted by lawyers from another country who have to deal with a divorce property settlement in accordance with Dutch law. I then advise that lawyer through a legal opinion or by some other means. The general community of property, for example, is one facet of our legal system that is unique in the world and therefore frequently needs to be explained to a foreign audience.

GMW lawyers recognises the importance of working together with lawyers abroad. If you are a lawyer in another country representing a Dutch national or dealing with a matter to which Dutch law is applicable then please don’t hesitate to contact me for advice. Dutch citizens living abroad also can phone or e-mail me any time.

Susan Meijler

Susan Meijler


Susan Meijler is a well-experienced and versatile lawyer at GMW lawyers.

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