Family law
advice with family-
law questions

Family law

Family law is a wide-ranging term that is mostly concerned with the legal aspects of divorce, the division of assets, child-related matters, alimony, parentage, marriage, and other areas associated with family relationships. Decisions on family-law matters often have far-reaching consequences. Clear legal advice can, in many cases, help you make informed choices.

Divorce | termination of co-habitation |
dissolution of civil partnership

  • Alimony
  • Children
  • Division of assets
  • Pension

Advice | second opinion | legal opinion

  • Advice to foreign colleagues, clients, and organisations on Dutch family law (legal opinion)
  • Pre-marital advice (prenuptial agreements)
  • Assessment of chances in appeal court
  • Seizure
  • Etc.


  • Adoption
  • Parentage (acknowledgement and denial of paternity + establishing paternity)
  • Change in alimony
  • Alimony fraud
  • Collecting alimony
  • Guardianship / tutelage / mentorship
  • Surrogate motherhood
  • Recognition and execution of foreign rulings
  • Disputes about children
  • Custody matters
  • International child abduction
  • Child protection
  • Change of name
  • Access cases
  • Relocating with children (including internationally)
  • Missing person

One of the most commonly occurring cases in family law is that of divorce (or separation) and all the matters that that entails.

A significant part of any divorce is the emotional aspect. It is first advisable to consider the causes of the separation and whether or not to actually take the decision. The mediators and lawyers at SmeetsGijbels have been trained in the emotional aspects of divorce. They are well placed to assess what phase the parties involved have reached. A client who has just heard that his spouse wishes to separate is in a different emotional state to one who has himself decided to separate. For a separation to be dealt with properly, it is important that the emotions be channelled and that the parties are carefully supported.

Community of property or prenuptial agreements

Community of property
If you are married, but did not visit a civil-law notary before the wedding and have not done so since, then you are married in community of property. It is important to establish whether the marriage was entered into before or on or after 1 January 2018.

» Read more about the division of assets under community of property.

Prenuptial agreements
If the spouses have had a prenuptial agreement drawn up, then an assessment will need to be made of what each spouse owes the other, according to that agreement. Because the text of a prenuptial agreement is not always entirely clear, a regular feature of divorce is what exactly the spouses meant at the time the agreement was drawn up. Reasonableness and fairness always play a role in the court’s rulings whenever the parties themselves do not agree about the interpretation of their prenuptial agreement.

» Read more about our advice on prenuptial agreements.

Dealing with a divorce

With a divorce, there are generally four areas about which agreement needs to be reached:

With a divorce, agreements have to be made about the children. Who is to look after them, how many days will they stay with each parent? Who pays which costs? Will child maintenance have to be paid? Agreements of this kind (in the case of children who have not reached the age of majority) are laid down in a parenting plan. The parenting plan has to be submitted to the courts, together with the divorce petition.
We can also assist you with legal advice in more complex cases, involving such matters as adoption, disputes regarding parental custody, or child abduction.

» Read more about cases involving children (including international cases).

A spouse who, post-divorce, is unable to fully support themselves financially, may claim alimony. The other spouse will then pay a monthly amount. The parties may decide that the obligation to pay alimony can be eliminated by payment of a single one-off amount. The level of the alimony depends on the couple’s lifestyle during their marriage, on what the recipient of the alimony reasonably needs, possibly as a supplement to their own income from employment and/or assets, and on what the payer of the alimony can afford.

Division of assets
When dividing the assets, it is important whether or not a prenuptial agreement was drawn up prior to the marriage. The term ‘assets’ includes the home, its contents, insurance policies, cars, funds in bank accounts, and shares, but also any debts, such as mortgages. Legacies and gifts from parents, for example, form part of the matrimonial property, unless it is stated in a will that this is not the case. For entrepreneurs, the division of assets can be a complex matter. Indeed, SmeetsGijbels has specialist knowledge precisely for people in this category.

» Read more about the possible consequences for entrepreneurs who divorce.

Pension entitlement may be accrued during a marriage. In general, any old-age pension built up during a marriage must be shared. Each partner receives, in due course, half of the pension payments. However, it is possible to deviate from this standard equation in a prenuptial agreement or divorce agreement.

Prevention is better than cure

As family law lawyers, we mostly help people who have come to the end of their marriages. This may concern a divorce, but it could also be because one of the partners has passed away. In practice, couples seeking to divorce who have drawn up a prenuptial agreement often have no idea about what exactly they have agreed. When it comes to a divorce, this leads to many problems and legal proceedings.

Thanks to their extensive experience in cases of this kind, our lawyers are very well placed to assist people either before or during their marriage in drawing up their prenuptial agreements. A sound agreement at the start of a marriage can save a lot of money and frustration in the event of it coming to an end.

Every situation is different and requires its own individual approach. Use the links below to find out more about mediation and the options for going to court.

Care to know more?

Family and inheritance law are sensitive subjects that often involve strong emotions. Matters that once seemed routine can take on a new significance as a result of all kinds of events, causing a breakdown in communications and thrusting the parties involved into far-reaching and invasive legal proceedings. SmeetsGijbels advises its clients on what route to take. We do so with empathy and support, adding our specialist legal knowledge as necessary.

Care to know more? Our lawyers and mediators are ready to help you. Obviously, we guarantee complete confidentiality.

Family law

Find out more about our family law lawyers and mediators in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. They can advise you on what decisions to take.