Any relationship breakup is tough. When you and your ex are from different parts of the world, and you have kids together, the separation is even tougher. During such a difficult time, your children’s needs can get a little neglected. This article will suggest a few ways in which you could make it easier on them. It will also take you through some of the legal complications of relocating with children, after your relationship has ended. 

Side Note

Dutch Law

When an expatriate moves from one country to another, their employer will probably be forthcoming with information on housing and schools. However, they may well lack knowledge about the legal consequences of terminating a marriage, or a relationship, in the Netherlands. This is both surprising and problematic, since almost one in two expat relationships do not work out.

1. Legal Matters for Unmarried Parents

Many expatriates live in the Netherlands, with their partner and children, without being married. If they break up:

  • the father will not automatically be awarded parental responsibility or custody of his children
  • This means that the child’s mother can move to another country without his consent
  • This can come as a shock to many expatriate fathers

2. Legal Matters for Married Parents

If parents are married:

  • Both will legally have joint parental responsibility over their children
  • Still, only the courts of the country in which the children have their habitual residence have jurisdiction over the fate of the children
  • This means that the country’s own, international private law will apply to the children in the case of a parental conflict
  • The outcome is often that the children must remain in their country of habitual residence
  • This is very important for parents, who call the Netherlands home, to realize!
  • Repatriation of children to the Netherlands is not an implicit right, if you are resident here

Effect on Expat Kids

Expat children often have to suffer the fallout of the above points. Here are a few examples:

  • Children frequently find themselves stuck in the middle of a conflict between their parents
  • In some cases, children are used by their parents in a court case, to manipulate the terms of their divorce
  • When parents decide to live in two different cities and/or countries, it obviously means that the children will have less day-to-day contact with one parent
  • This makes it fair for children to spend more time with the estranged parent during the holidays, to compensate. This can lead to further conflict between the ex-partners and further unrest for their children

Kids Caught in the Middle

Are your kids safe?”

This is what I texted my client on August 21, 2015, at midnight, after I realized that her girls of 17 and 12 had been on the Thalys that had been subject to the terrorist attack near Arras that very evening. The girls had been on their way to visit their father in Paris, based on a visiting schedule which had finally been arranged between their parents”

Edith van Ruitenbeek, lawyer/mediator and partner at van Hilten de Vries van Ruitenbeek Advocaten & Mediators

Putting your children first in the divorce

Working for an international organization in the Netherlands, as an expatriate, comes with many privileges. These can be enjoyed by both parents and children. The perks often include special allowances for housing, travel and schooling.

However, when a child’s parents break up, the damage done to them tends to outweigh these benefits. Hence, it is important for parents not to rely on these perks to maintain the well-being of their kids. Here are a few tips for navigating this difficult situation:

1. Your Children have Rights

Try to recognize that your children have rights of their own. They have the right to: 

  • Where appropriate, maintain a personal relationship and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis
  • Where appropriate, to live with both parents
  • To rest, to be healthy and to enjoy leisure time

2. Keep your Family Close

Of course, under certain circumstances, parents have absolutely no option but to live in different countries to one another. This is often the case when they both have international careers. However, not everyone has to:

  • If it is possible for you to live closer to your ex, try to make it happen
  • Even if it seems overly complicated, at least research your options
  • One alternative for an expatriate parent, whose ex lives in the Netherlands, is to take on assignments in Holland
  • Assignments usually last a few years. Therefore, this could mean that your children can have both their parents around, during the early stages of their development

3. Too Much Travelling

If you cannot live in the same city as your ex-partner, remember that:

  • Children cannot be expected to travel like adults
  • Of course kids have to spend time with both of their parents. Nonetheless, do not forget that journeying between homes on a regular basis can be draining and stressful for them

Useful links

Recently Posted on XPat.nl

If you’re an expat living and looking for work in the Netherlands then there are some vital differences you should know about in regards to your job applications. In the Netherlands, as with most places in Europe, the norm is a CV rather than the resume which is commonly used in the United States amongst … Continue reading "The Difference Between a Resume and a CV"
Rising mortgage interest rates can have a significant impact on homebuyers and homeowners. The average interest rate for a fixed-rate mortgage in the Netherlands is currently around 4%. As interest rates increase, the cost of borrowing money to purchase or refinance a home also increases. This can make it more difficult for potential homebuyers to … Continue reading "Mortgage Interest Rates in the Netherlands in 2024"
It is that time of year again; the new and annually-updated version of The Holland Handbook is here and ready to be enjoyed! Not only that, but this is the 24th edition! More than twenty years ago, a modest group of three people sat around a table to discuss the possibility of creating a handbook … Continue reading "The Holland Handbook 2024"
Taxes are always complicated. If you have moved to the Netherlands from another country, they can be especially confusing! Many expats carry out business, and therefore earn an income, internationally. This makes what they get taxed on, and by whom, a complex matter. To figure out your own personal tax liability, your residency status and … Continue reading "Dutch Taxes"
The 30%-ruling is a tax advantage, created for employees who are posted or recruited from abroad, to work in the Netherlands. The purpose of this advantage is to cover all the various costs they incur, as a result of moving their lives oversees to. This can be a real blessing to expats! In order to … Continue reading "Dutch 30%-ruling Tax Facility"
Following the legendary previous 8 editions of The UnDutchables, the 9th edition of this all time best seller (more than 300,000 copies sold since 1999) is now available in the Netherlands. The UnDutchables takes an in-depth humorous look at Dutch life, quirks and character. With subjects varying from coffee drinking habits to child rearing, from … Continue reading "The UnDutchables 9.0"

Gift giving in the Netherlands-all ...

If you feel like skipping your birthday, you may be in for a challenge when ...

Tips and tricks for Daily Life in t ...

With the Netherlands being a very rainy country, you will automatically have the title of ...

10 things you will find in every Du ...

The Dutch are very fond of houseplants, the more the merrier! You will find the ...

Your guide to Indoor Plants in The ...

Gardening has become a popular hobby in the Netherlands. It's not surprising, considering how ...

What are the Benefits of Having Sim ...

When you have just moved to the Netherlands, you will have to take care of ...

Economical, Not Stingy

Most of the work I do consists of giving 1 or 2-day workshops and ... And to ‘ease’ the delegates into to the subject of culture, I start talking about ...

Getting Connected in the Netherland ...

There are several criteria that are important to consider when choosing a mobile phone service ...

The Media in the Netherlands

As an expat, you have a wide range of media outlets on offer to you ...

Dutch Gardens and Curtains

There are some specific and quintessential Dutch traditions, surrounding gardens and curtains in the Netherlands ...

Pets in the Netherlands

The Dutch truly love their furry friends, and have a unique way of treating them ...