Divorce and family law for the LGBT community

Gay marriage is a hot issue internationally and is now being legalised in more and more countries. Marriage rights come with less publicised but just as hard fought rights for divorce. In the Netherlands both gay marriage and divorce are common, but unfortunately that is still not the case elsewhere.

So, is ‘gay divorce’ really different?

Yes and no. In many cases, divorce proceedings will not differ, irrespective the sex of the spouses involved. However there are some specifics to  divorce between gay couples that make advisable to seek a specialised lawyer.

For example: you were married in the Netherlands and then left to live in another country that does not recognise gay marriage. Not recognising gay marriage certainly bars getting a divorce in your country of residence, so a legal basis will have to be found to file for divorce in The Netherlands under Dutch law. If both spouses are of Dutch nationality, then the Dutch courts will always have jurisdiction, but if one or both of the spouses are of a different nationality, then further legal arguments will be necessary to create jurisdiction.

It may also be the case that you have had or adopted children during the marriage. As legal guardians you will have to arrange the future care of your children. There may also be a third, biological, parent to be taken into account. It is in the interests of all involved  to make arrangements regarding custody and visitation as soon of possible.

Our LGBT desk also advises on buy-outs or closure of businesses when not only personal relationships are to be severed.


In case of dispute, mediation can provide an alternative solution to protracted court battles. Mediation allows parties, guided by a trained professional mediator, to reopen communication in a confidential setting. In typically three to five sessions, parties are given the tools to come to an agreement.

Paul van Lange is a lawyer and an accredited mediator with the Dutch mediation federation and is well experienced with LGBT issues.

Family law

Our LGBT desk also assists with (international) adoptions, name change, custody and alimony cases.

For further advice or assistance, please contact Paul van Lange at our LGBT desk.

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