Divorce involves a lot. The divorce proceedings consist of a number of steps. Which steps have to be taken depends on whether you have children and whether you have agreed in advance on a settlement with your future ex-partner. In general, the following standard procedure should be followed. First of all, an application for divorce must be submitted to the court. This can be a unilateral application or a joint application. With the first option, a partner only submits the petition. If a joint petition is made, you and your ex-partner submit the petition and agree on all the arrangements. You can have these agreements laid down in a divorce covenant by a mediator or lawyer. In that case there will be no court hearing, but you will receive a divorce decision. After receiving the divorce decision you can have a deed of resignation drawn up by a lawyer. A deed of resignation is a declaration that you have taken note of the divorce decision issued by the court and that you will not appeal against the decision, which means that it can be registered with the municipality immediately. You will only be divorced under the law once the decision has been entered in the municipality’s civil status records. As long as the divorce decision has not been registered, you are still formally married.
After the ruling of the court, an appeal period of 3 months starts in principle. Within this period you can lodge an appeal against the divorce decision if you disagree with it. If the parties immediately agree with the divorce decision, this period of 3 months may be delayed. This is because the court’s decision can only be registered once the judgment has become final. A judgment only becomes final once the 3-month appeal period has expired. However, if both parties sign the resignation agreement, they both renounce to appeal. The parties ‘resign’ to the judgment of the court. The judgment is then final and can be registered without having to wait for the 3-month period. If you do not agree with the divorce decision, it is important not to sign the resignation deed. Signing the deed is therefore not mandatory. After the decision of the court there are the following possibilities in the area of resignation:
- Both parties sign an act of resignation:
By doing so, the parties indicate that they do not wish to lodge an appeal against the divorce decision. In this case, the 3-month appeal period expires and the divorce proceedings are quicker. The divorce can be entered immediately in the municipality’s civil status records.
- One of the two parties signs an act of resignation, the other does not. But he or she does not lodge an appeal either:
The possibility of appeal remains open. The appeal period of 3 months must be waited. If your (future) ex-partner does not lodge an appeal after all, the divorce can still be definitively registered with the municipality after 3 months.
- One of the two parties signs an act of resignation, the other party lodges an appeal:
In this case, the proceedings enter an entirely new phase and the court will re-examine the case on appeal.
- Neither of the parties signs an act of resignation, but the parties do not appeal either:
At the end of the 3-month appeal period, you or your lawyer must send the divorce decision to the registrar of births, marriages and deaths for final registration in the civil status records.
The divorce decree becomes irrevocable after the 3-month appeal period has expired. Once the decision has become irrevocable, it must be entered in the civil status records within 6 months. If the divorce decision is not registered in time, the decision will lapse and the marriage will not be dissolved!
Once the time limit for appeal has expired, you will need a deed of non-application in order to have the divorce registered with the municipality. You must apply for this deed of non-application to the court that pronounced the judgment in the divorce proceedings. In this deed, the court declares that the parties have not appealed against the judgment. The difference with the deed of resignation is that the deed of non-application is requested from the court after the appeal period has expired, whereas the deed of resignation must be drawn up by the lawyers of the parties before the appeal period has expired.
For advice and guidance during your divorce you can contact the family law lawyers of Law & More. At Law & More we understand that the divorce and subsequent events can have far-reaching consequences on your life. That is why we take a personal approach. Our lawyers can also assist you in any proceedings. The lawyers at Law & More are experts in the field of family law and are happy to guide you, possibly together with your partner, through a divorce process.