18 July 2011

Regime of general community of property Part 1: A thing of the past?

By Thijs Sarneel

A reform of the matrimonial regime of general community property, takes effect on 1 January 2012.

This marks the end of a long debate, engaging all levels of the political spectrum, on what needed to be changed in the existing system and to what extent.

In this web log I’ll give some general information, in my 2 following web logs I’ll elaborate on the consequences for divorcing couples.

The present situation

At present, couples married without any prenuptial agreement are automatically married under the regime of general community property. This means that all property and debts are equally shared between the spouses, including assets obtained previous to the marriage, inheritances and gifts that are not specifically covered by an exemption clause. In doing so, The Netherlands stands truly unique in the world; in Germany, the default system is the so-called “Zugewinngemeinschaft”, in France, it is the ’Communauté réduite aux acquêts’ – both of which are matrimonial regimes limiting the jointly owned property to all that was acquired during the marriage. 

The initial legislative proposal

The initial legislative proposal was meant to reform the existing situation, bringing it in line with the legislations of neighbouring countries. It advocated a limited community of goods and property, excluding property acquired before the marriage, inheritances and gifts. Admittedly, this is quite different from the legislator’s current intention.

The future perspective

The general community of property and goods holds good, also after 1 January 2012. Whilst the content remains unaffected, some provisions will change.

More information?

Read Part 2 and Part 3 of this blog.

Thijs Sarneel

Thijs Sarneel


Thijs Sarneel is specialised in family and inheritance law.

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