What is alimony?
In the Netherlands alimony is a financial contribution to the cost of living of your former partner and children after a divorce. It is an amount that you receive or have to pay monthly. If you don’t have enough income to live on, you can get alimony. You will have to pay alimony if your ex-partner has insufficient income to support himself or herself after the divorce. The standard of living at the time of the marriage will be taken into account. You may have an obligation to support an ex-partner, ex-registered partner and your children.
Child alimony and partner alimony
In the event of a divorce, you may be faced with partner alimony and child alimony. With regard to partner alimony, you can make agreements about this with your ex-partner. These agreements can be laid down in a written agreement by a lawyer or notary. If nothing has been agreed on partner alimony during the divorce, you may apply for alimony later on if, for instance, your situation or that of your ex-partner changes. Even if the existing alimony arrangement is no longer reasonable, you can make new arrangements.
With regard to child alimony, agreements can also be made during the divorce. These agreements are laid down in a parenting plan. In this plan you will also make arrangements for the distribution of care for your child. More information about this plan can be found on our page about the parenting plan. Child alimony does not stop until the child reaches the age of 21. It is possible that alimony stops before this age, i.e. if the child is financially independent or has a job with at least the minimum youth wage. The caring parent receives child support until the child reaches the age of 18. After that, the amount goes directly to the child if the maintenance obligation lasts longer. If you and your ex-partner do not succeed in reaching an agreement on child support, the court may decide on a maintenance arrangement.
How do you calculate alimony?
Alimony is calculated on the basis of the capacity of the debtor and the needs of the person entitled to maintenance. The capacity is the amount the alimony payer can spare. When both child alimony and partner alimony are applied for, child support always takes precedence. This means that child alimony is calculated first and, if there is room for it afterwards, partner alimony can be calculated. You are only entitled to partner alimony if you have been married or in a registered partnership. In the case of child alimony, the relationship between the parents is irrelevant, even if the parents have not been in a relationship, the right to child alimony exists.
Alimony amounts change every year, because wages also change. This is called indexing. Each year, an index percentage is set by the Minister of Justice and Security, after calculation by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). The CBS monitors salary developments in the business community, government and other sectors. As a result, alimony amounts increase by this percentage every year on 1 January. You can agree together that the statutory indexation does not apply to your alimony.
How long are you entitled to maintenance?
You can agree with your partner how long the alimony payment will continue. You can also ask the court to set a time limit. If nothing has been agreed, the law will regulate how long maintenance has to be paid. The current legal regulation means that the alimony period is equal to half the duration of the marriage with a maximum of 5 years. There are a number of exceptions to this:
- If, at the time the application for divorce is filed, the duration of the marriage exceeds 15 years and the age of the maintenance creditor is not more than 10 years lower than the state pension age applicable at that time, the obligation shall end when the state pension age is reached. This is therefore a maximum of 10 years if the person concerned is exactly 10 years before the state pension age at the time of divorce. The possible postponement of the state pension age thereafter does not affect the duration of the obligation. This exception therefore applies to long-term marriages.
- The second exception concerns families with young children. In this case, the obligation continues until the youngest child born of the marriage reaches the age of 12. This means that alimony can last for a maximum of 12 years.
- The third exception is a transitional arrangement and extends the duration of maintenance for maintenance creditors aged 50 and over if the marriage has lasted for at least 15 years. Maintenance creditors born on or before 1 January 1970 will receive maintenance for a maximum of 10 years instead of a maximum of 5 years.
Alimony begins when the divorce decree has been entered in the civil status records. Alimony stops when the period fixed by the court has expired. It also ends when the recipient remarries, cohabits or enters into a registered partnership. When one of the parties dies, the alimony payment also stops.
In some cases, the ex-partner may ask the court to extend the alimony. This could only be done until 1 January 2020 if the termination of the alimony was so far-reaching that it could not reasonably and fairly be required. From 1 January 2020, these rules have been made a little more flexible: alimony can now be extended if termination is not reasonable for the receiving party.
A procedure can be started to determine, modify or terminate the alimony. You will always need a lawyer. The first step is to file an application. In this application, you ask the judge to determine, modify or stop the maintenance. Your lawyer draws up this application and submits it to the registry of the court in the district where you live and where the trial takes place. Are you and your ex-partner not living in the Netherlands? Then the application will be sent to the court in The Hague. Your ex-partner will then receive a copy. As a second step, your ex-partner has the opportunity to submit a statement of defence. In this defence he or she can explain why alimony cannot be paid, or why the alimony cannot be adjusted or stopped. In that case there will be a court hearing in which both partners can tell their story. Subsequently, the court will make a decision. If one of the parties disagrees with the decision of the court, he or she can appeal to the court of appeal. In that case, your lawyer will send another petition and the case will be completely reassessed by the court. You will then be given another decision. You can then appeal to the Supreme Court if you again disagree with the court’s decision. The Supreme Court only examines whether the Court of Appeal has interpreted and applied the law and procedural rules properly and whether the Court’s decision is sufficiently well-founded. Therefore, the Supreme Court does not reconsider the substance of the case.
Do you have questions about alimony or do you want to apply for, change or stop alimony? Then please contact the family law lawyers of Law & More. Our lawyers are specialised in the (re)calculation of alimony. In addition, we can assist you in any alimony 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 this process.