If you have followed the news over the past few weeks, you won’t have missed the fact that a new law on the duration of alimony (partner maintenance) will soon be introduced. After much discussion in The Hague, the time has finally come. The 12-year alimony period will be replaced by a period of half the duration of the marriage, with a maximum of 5 years as the main rule. So what exactly will change, when and for whom?
This post was reviewed and updated on 15 July 2020
What exactly will change?
Until now, the maximum duration for paying partner maintenance has been set at 12 years. 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.
Exception 1: if the spouses together have children under the age of 12 at the time of divorce, the obligation to pay partner alimony does not end until the time when the youngest child turns 12.
Exception 2: if the spouses have been married for 15 years or more at the time of divorce and the recipient of the alimony is 57 or older, the obligation to pay partner alimony does not end before the alimony recipient reaches the age of 67.
Exception 3: if the spouses have been married for 15 years or more at the time of divorce and the recipient of the maintenance allowance is then between 50 and 57 years old, the obligation to pay partner maintenance ends after 10 years.
In order to qualify exceptions 2 and 3, note that the legal text does not work with ages, but with the year of birth (1 January 1970: 50 years if the date of entry into force of the new law becomes 1 January 2020) and the year on which the state pension age is reached (on average 67 years).
The longest period applies if the main rule coincides with one or more exceptions.
When will something change?
The law is expected to enter into force on January 1, 2020. This is not yet certain because the effective date still has to be set in a separate royal decree.
Who will this affect?
The new law is likely to apply to spouses who file a petition for divorce with the court after January 1, 2020. Probably, because even in the transitional law a separate royal decree must be provided for.
Although inappropriate, the word “divorce planning” comes to mind; the brother or sister of “estate planning”. The decision to separate is sometimes taken overnight. With the entry into force of the new law, the timing of this decision will in any case become a point for attention.
Feel free to come by for advice.