25 October 2021

Take your time before starting divorce proceedings

By Antoine de Werd

The decision to separate from your partner and then go to court for divorce is one of the most difficult decisions in a person's life.

It is not for nothing that it is classified as a “life event”.

The most common reasons for divorce are conflicting characters, becoming bored with each other, infidelity/infatuation, lack of intimacy, changing future plans, money and (in new relationships) irritation about each other’s children.

It is also interesting to note that there are certain periods when the divorce rate is higher, such after the holidays, when the relationship has come under even more pressure, or at the beginning of the new year.

When you see the signs

Sometimes the signs of a divorce present themselves. This can happen slowly and insidiously: the attention for the other diminishes, intimacy decreases or is absent, there are more and more intense disagreements or arguments and there is poor communication. It can also happen quickly and unexpectedly, such as in the case of proven infidelity or infatuation.

Whatever the case, in practice it often turns out that the spouse seeking a divorce should have taken more time before deciding to divorce. Taking your time is important.

Take your time

In the Netherlands, to request a divorce – only the court can pronounce the divorce – it is only necessary to argue that the marriage has broken down permanently. No more. No examples, no explanation. So, even though it may seem so “simple” (apart from the other complex issues involved in a divorce), it may be desirable to ask yourself a few questions before deciding to divorce.

Ask yourself this question

The most important question is: do you still love your partner? If the answer is “yes” and you think your marriage is worth saving, consider counselling or couples therapy. Talk to each other. Find out the reason for the possible divorce. Has the marriage irrevocably broken down (sustained disruption)? Then it becomes difficult to repair it. Is your decision based on emotion or logic? Emotional decisions can turn out to be less durable, but on the other hand, the mind can create tightness and coldness in the relationship. Is that the intention?

Consider the implications

Think about the implications of ending your relationship for your children, whose best interests should always come first. Also consider how your financial situation will change. What will your status be after a divorce? Thinking about this beforehand and getting advice can help you make a decision.

Your social network can also play a role. Can help be expected after the divorce and from whom? Talk to close friends or relatives (not too many) who may be able to offer clear advice. Don’t forget your work either. You may be able to get support in the event of a divorce from your work, for example by taking extra time off to pick up the children if they are sick.

If you’re certain, hire an experienced specialist

After reviewing all of this and deciding that divorce is the only way forward, make sure you hire an experienced family lawyer (on time). It is advisable to hire a family lawyer who is a member of the vFAS – the association of family lawyers. Lawyers/mediators affiliated with the vFAS specialise in divorce and breakups. These lawyers try to settle the divorce in a constructive manner, preferably in consultation with (the lawyer of) your partner.

Are you considering a divorce?

Please feel free to contact me. I have been a divorce lawyer for over 30 years, I am a divorce mediator and a member of the vFAS and the VvCP (the association for consultative divorce). I’m happy to help you.

Antoine de Werd

Antoine de Werd

Lawyer and mediator / partner

Antoine de Werd, one of the co-founders of GMW lawyers, specialises in divorce law.

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