Attention Australians divorcing in the Netherlands

This is one of a series of guest posts from GMW lawyers in The Hague, offering information on legal matters in English.

If you’re an Australian who got married in Australia, but now lives in The Netherlands, you may think that if you get divorced, it will be under Australian law. Actually Dutch law could still apply when you get divorced – and that has consequences for how you can divide your property. International divorce lawyer Marjet Groenleer highlights key considerations about the division of property for Australians divorcing in The Netherlands.

Which law will apply to your divorce?

Even though you were married in Australia, and even if you married an Australian, Dutch law could apply to your divorce, and to the division of your property when you get divorced in the Netherlands.

Does that really matter?

Yes. If Dutch law applies to you, then all assets or property that you and your ex own will automatically belong to a “matrimonial community” or “community of property”.  This means you will have to share those assets 50/50 when you get divorced.

Your assets are not just your houses, stocks or cars – they may include an inheritance you received, or even gifts from your parents.


If you were married after 1 January 2018, your inheritance and gifts will be automatically excluded from the community of property, as Dutch law changed on this date.

If you married before 1 January 2018, the only way to exclude your inheritance and gifts from the community of property is

  1. if you have a prenuptial agreement in which you exclude inheritances or gifts from the community of property.
  2. If your parents (or others from who you inherit or receive a gift) have a so-called exclusion clause in their will.

If you do not have a prenuptial agreement and there is no exclusion clause, you will have to share your inheritance with your ex.

What is an exclusion clause?

An exclusion clause is a clause in a will that expressly states that  an inheritance should not fall into any marital community of property.

If such a clause exists then, for instance, an inheritance received during the marriage will not become part of any community of assets and property into which the heir(ess) is married. Even if you get divorced under Dutch law.

An exclusion clause is typically Dutch, so you may not have heard this term used in other countries, but it could still work to your benefit.

For her own use and benefit absolutely

In countries like Australia, a sentence like “for her own use and benefit only” is frequently used in wills. Such a sentence could work to your advantage.

Under Dutch law, this could be considered an exclusion clause which could prevent your inheritance falling within a marital community of assets and property.

In a recent case, the courts of appeal in Arnhem-Leeuwarden had to decide whether this qualified as an exclusion clause when a wife received an inheritance from her Australian uncle during her marriage (ECLI:NL:GHARL:2018:3767). In this case, the uncle’s last will and testament contained the sentence mentioned above.

First, the courts of appeal considered that the will should be interpreted according to Australian law (referring to international private law legislation laid down in EU-regulations and international treaties).

Further, the court found that because the uncle had deliberately added this sentence to his will, even though in Australia inheritances by default stay out of any marital community, that the uncle had clearly expressed his wish to leave the inheritance solely to the wife.

The court therefore decided that this qualified as an exclusion clause. The result was that the wife did not need to share her inheritance with her ex.

How can you ensure you don’t need to share your inheritance?

There are two ways to protect any future inheritance. The first is to go to a notary and make a prenuptial agreement in which you exclude gifts and inheritances from any marital community, as mentioned above. The other option is to make sure that any future testators have an exclusion clause in their wills.

Dealing with the reality of divorce in The Netherlands

Getting divorced in another country and having to navigate the impact of a new legal system can add an extra pressure during to an already stressful situation.

When you face divorce in The Netherlands and you’re unsure about your rights, consider getting legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in international divorces. They can help you get a clear picture of your rights, advise you on the applicable law, and help you find a solution.

If you have a question about getting divorced in The Netherlands, or you’d like to discuss your situation, please contact Marjet Groenleer.

Marjet Groenleer is an attorney-at-law and associate partner at GMW lawyers in The Hague. She has been active in family law for more than 15 years, focused on international divorces and is a trained divorce mediator.

Marjet has particular expertise in the international aspects of family law, and is familiar with several foreign legal systems. She is an expert in dealing with complex financial and multi-jurisdictional cases of an international family breakdown. Many of her clients are expats in The Netherlands for the various international organisations and companies based in The Netherlands, specifically in the area of The Hague (such as EPO, Estec, OPCW, NATO, the tribunals, ICC, Shell, etc.)

Marjet worked as a lecturer in International Civil Law for several years and at the Court of Appeals in The Hague in the family law sector. Today, she is a deputy judge in the Court of Appeals in Amsterdam and publishes regularly in professional journals.

About GMW lawyers

GMW lawyers is a law firm based in The Hague that has one goal: to achieve the best result for you.

Since 1989, GMW lawyers has been helping international and local individuals, companies and organisations to solve their legal problems.

Having lawyers who have been expats themselves, GMW lawyers has a strong understanding of the issues expats can face. Their legal experts work together in teams, using their extensive personal and professional experience to deliver the best possible solutions. In this way, they can provide service and guidance in more than one field of expertise.

GMW lawyers can assist you with questions about family law and estate planning, employment and pensions, property and tenancy, liability and company law.

Learn more about GMW lawyers on their website:


2018 NN Den Haag Urban Trail

Last weekend, I participated for the first time in the NN Den Haag Urban Trail.  What a fantastic experience! A very unique way to explore a city.  You can choose between a 5.5km or 10km race though what I really liked is that this is not a timed running competition but more what we would call a “fun run” in Australia.  Around 4800 people took part in the 3rd edition of this event in The Hague.

Fun Run

The starters line and the event itself does have the energetic atmosphere of a running race – well at least from my only other running race experience which was the Delft Golden Tenloop last year.  You do not have to be super fit to take part in the Urban Trail though.  It is expected that you run, but as the trail takes you into and out of buildings, it’s quite acceptable to take a bit of a break and a breather.  For example, in the Golden Tenloop for the 5km race, you need to finish within 40 minutes to be considered a finisher.  The 5.5km Urban Run trail took me around an hour as I (and other runners) stopped regularly to take photos and absorb the surroundings. Therefore I’d see this event as a “fun run” – you still get a good workout, but it’s a great opportunity for people to take part who may be daunted by a usual running race.  There are also fun things to see/do along with parcours, from classical music to a royal selfie, a gorgeous garden to an 80s style aerobics “class”.

Discover the city

I’ve now lived in The Hague for 6 years and have made it my home.  It’s an amazing place, and especially as I’ve previously been the editor of TheHagueOnline website, I know quite a lot about the city.  On the Urban Trail though, I still discovered new places – both buildings which I’d never been into and back streets I wouldn’t usually take the time to explore.  The start and finish lines were in stunning locations and we were also lucky enough to have great weather.  The locations for the 5.5km trail this year were:

  • Escher in Het Paleis
  • Societeit de Ver
  • Paleistuin
  • KORZO Theater
  • Hofje van Nieuwkoop
  • Koostertuin
  • Het Heilige Geesthofje
  • Pro Demos
  • Decathlon
  • Q-Park Grote Marktstraat
  • Centrale Bibliotheek Spui
  • Nieuwspoort

2018 Den Haag Urban Trail Parcours. Credit:

Family fun

The minimum age to participate is 12 years old and my girls are just about to turn 9 and 11 years old, so have a few years to wait.  However if you have teenage children, its something that would be a family fun morning out.  My friend took her 13 year old son and they both really enjoyed it.  My girls and husband were along the route though, and ran short parts of the race with me, and we shared an ice cream at the end!

Official photos and aftermovie

Official 2018 photos are on the NN Den Haag Urban Trail Facebook Page.

Other Urban Trails in the Netherlands

There are many other urban trails in the Netherlands:

At time of writing, there are (annual) urban trails in:

  • Den Haag
  • Den Bosch
  • Rotterdam
  • Amsterdam
  • Groningen
  • Haarlem
  • Arnhem
  • Zwolle
  • Breda
  • Eindhoven
  • Maastricht
  • Leeuwarden
  • Utrecht

There are also urban trails in Belgium and Germany. For more information on these, visit:

For specific information on the Den Haag Urban Trail visit:

I’ll be doing it again in Den Haag next year, and possibly exploring other city.  Have you taken part in an urban trail, or would you like to?  Comment below or on the Dutch Australian Facebook page.

My own photos and videos are here:


Reimagining First Encounters Exhibition

In February 2018, I had the privilege and pleasure to view an exhibition at the Australian Residence in the Hague entitled “Reimagining First Encounters”.

An introduction from Ambassador Brett Mason….

Long before my homeland was named “Australia” it was called “New Holland”.  For the Dutch were the first Europeans to walk upon and map that vast continent.  Mapping what in Europe had been merely a myth, they quite literally drew Australia onto the modern globe.

But the Dutch were not along on Australia’s shores.  They encountered her Indigenous peoples and their ancient culture.  Aboriginal Australians practised and preserved the world’s oldest living culture; complex traditions of lore, art, religion, kinship and survival maintained since the Dreamtime.

First contact is not a romantic story of peoples’ understanding and cooperation.  It was often a tale of hardship, conflict and violence.  Drawing on this shared but confronting history, contemporary Aboriginal and Dutch artists have reassessed and reimagined those early encounters.

The artworks on display reflect these new perspectives.  The Duyfken Aboriginal Print Portfolio retells the story of the very first contact between Indigenous peoples and Dutch explorers in 1606.  Indigenous artist Michael Cook’s photographic portraits confront us by recasting Indigenous Australians in traditionally European roles and forms.  Dutch photographer Geert Snoeijer beautifully captures the opposite: Dutch features reflected in the faces of our Indigenous peoples.

First encounters leave lasting legacies.  Reimagining First Encounters: Portraits and Prints” teaches us that early conflict can lead to new understandings.”

Ambassador Brett Mason

Ambassador Mason presented these works by Geert Snoeijers, Belinda Fox, Michael Cook and a collection of Aboriginal prints commissioned for the Dutch Royal Family.

For more photos and video, visit my Google Photos album here:


2017 World in Your Classroom The Hague

In 2014, I took part in a fabulous project in The Hague called “The World in Your Classroom”.  You can real all about my experiences here:

Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to personally take part since due to a lot of other commitments (such as completing my Masters Degree!) but I’m really glad to see it’s still running.  Lucie Cunningham (who I’ve known since she founded Delft Mama 10 years ago!) is the project co-ordinator, and she does a great job of gathering guest lecturers from multicultural backgrounds to talk to schools in The Hague.

For full information and to register:

Australian circus cabaret show LIMBO in Amsterdam

On Saturday 29th July 2017, I had the pleasure of experiencing LIMBO, an original Australian circus-caberet that has spent the summer performing at Amsterdam’s Boom Chicago Rozengracht theater.

Created by an Australian production company, but with a multicultural cast, I spoke to the two Aussies that were in the Amsterdam show.  Musician, Mick Stuart, has been involved with LIMBO since the very beginning.  He told me that the show that evening was his 777th!   Eamon McNelis is also a talented and experienced musician, who said he was really enjoying his time in Amsterdam.  There are a total of FIFTY instruments played during the show. I’m sadly not musical enough to identify many of them or even to fully appreciate the talent it takes to play them – but I can say that they contribute to an amazing experience!

Taking photos and videos was not allowed during the show, so instead here’s just a photo afterwards of the stage…you’d be amazed at how much goes on in that fairly small circle, and the surreal, superb sounds created by all those instruments you can see in the background.

You can get an impression from their promotional video:

You can also read more about the show in my initial post promoting LIMBO.  They have their own website, but as I write, this doesn’t seem to have been updated since their 2015 appearances in Edinburgh and Melbourne.  Not all the performers were the same in Amsterdam, but the photos there do give another impression of the show though:

I live in The Hague and to get to the theater in Amsterdam, I needed to travel around 2 hours each way on public transport.  It was well worth it.  The performance is around an hour and a quarter, and the entire time is packed with non stop high energy and surprises.  It’s described as a combination of circus and cabaret and it’s perfect for international audiences as its purely visual.  Several other reviews describe it as “sexy” and I’d have to agree – not only are the acrobatic and athletic bodies just perfection, but the whole package of the way the performers exude their confidence and capability is really impressive.  I am sure they have worked increadibly hard to get to this point, and each show is no doubt physically demanding.  However the atmosphere that they manage to create is one of effortless ease, while the audience is left gasping in admiration and awe.  Made me want to up my yoga classes, learn how to strut and swallow fire!  However I’ll never match the amazing flexibility, strength and sexiness of this crew.  I think there were 8-9 performers – all displayed unique talents, whether musical, acrobatic, dance – and all together, it was just WOW.

Seeing LIMBO in a relatively small venue was a treat too, meaning I was up close to the action. My friend and I had VIP seats, worth booking if you see a show at Boom Chicago as it adds to the experience with a good view (on a raised platform) and table service – we had drinks and dessert.

There are only a few more days left to grab tickets in Amsterdam, Sunday 6 August 2017 is the last show:

It was great to have the chance to chat to the artists after the show in the Boom Chicago bar.

Good news for Australia – another version of this show, Limbo Unhinged, can be seen in Brisbane from 9-30 September:

If you are in Brisbane, get tickets here before it sells out!

They will hopefully continue to travel the world, so go see them if they are ever near you!


Australian circus-cabaret LIMBO in Amsterdam this summer

The Australian circus-cabaret LIMBO plays hard and fast in Amsterdam this summer. Having sold out London, Sydney, Melbourne and Munich seasons LIMBO now brings it’s thrilling live band with over 50 instruments to accompany jaw dropping contortion, gut-churning aerial acrobatics, nail-biting stunts and staggering illusions. For 7 weeks the theater on the Rozengracht is transformed into a circus and cabaret space with the stage in the center of the venue so the audience can be close to the action. With only 350 seats, this intimate venue is the best place to see this big show.

LIMBO’s stellar international cast includes Coney Island’s fire-breathing, sword-swallowing vintage beauty Heather Holliday, Europe’s gravity-defying Chinese pole master and beat boxer Mikael Bres,  the aerial grace of Canadian acrobat Evelyne Allard, alongside Australia’s tap dancing sensation Hilton Denis.

Music is one of the driving forces in LIMBO, created by New York’s Sxip Shirey. Sxip has created a musical genre called JANK; constantly surprising, always funky and very sexy Shirey describes the music as “a New York brass band marching through New Orleans on its way to an all-night party in Berlin. It’s brass, electronics, surprising sounds, hip-hop and club beats.”

LIMBOS Melbourne based Creator and Director Scott Maidment (Tom Tom Crew, Cantina, Blanc de Blanc)  of Strut & Fret Production House can’t wait.  “We are over the moon that the award winning sensation LIMBO is finally coming to delight Dutch audiences,” said Mr Maidment.  “Since the start in Adelaide in 2013, the show has since traveled non-stop around the world and I’m really excited to finally get the opportunity to present LIMBO in Amsterdam for the first time.”

Buy your tickets here: 

The show lasts 1 hours and 35 minutes, including intermission

Health insurance in The Netherlands: how does it work?

If you are planning to study, work or live in The Netherlands it is important to consider your health coverage as you are possibly required to apply for health insurance.

When is Dutch health insurance necessary?

A health insurance (in Dutch: zorgverzekering) in The Netherlands is mandatory as soon as you start working in Holland or when you emigrate to The Netherlands. Failing to apply for a health insurance within four months will likely result in a substantial fine, issued by the government.

However, applying for a Dutch health insurance is not allowed if you are only in The Netherlands temporally, for example, if you are in Holland for your studies and you don’t get a job on the side. In this case your home country insurance will suffice if you are from within the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or another country (like Australia) that has a social treaty with the Netherlands. If you are from outside the EU/EEA you may need to check whether your home country or travel insurance covers the necessary healthcare when abroad.

In any case, it is wise to check and verify this sort of information with your current insurance company prior to entering the Netherlands.

If you are unsure whether or not you are obliged to apply for Dutch health insurance, you can contact on +31 88 900 6960 for free and unbiased advice.

How to apply?

If you do need Dutch health insurance you can easily apply for one online. An insurance broker, like (English site), can help you find a suitable and affordable insurance.

Although the application process is quite straightforward, it is mostly in Dutch. So using Google translate or a Dutch speaking friend/co-worker to help you, might be a good idea.

What does it cover?

The minimum cover that a Dutch insurance company has to offer already covers a substantial amount of medical expenses, such as:

  • Visiting a GP and treatments conducted by him/her
  • Emergency medical care in The Netherlands and abroad
  • Healthcare provided by (non-) physician specialists
  • Physiotherapy for certain chronic diseases
  • Treatments in a hospital or clinic
  • Medication
  • Midwifery
  • Psychological healthcare
  • Dental care (only up to 18 years of age)

How much does it cost?

Health insurance in The Netherlands is primarily funded by income tax. All other costs involve premiums (around 100 euros per month).

Furthermore, do note that using healthcare usually requires you to pay an excess which goes up to 385 euro a year. Once you have paid this amount, all further costs made by you will be reimbursed by the insurance company.

Residents with a limited income may apply for financial compensation (up to 88 euro per month) by the government. This can be done through the website of the Dutch tax authorities.

Need more information?

Do you need more information about a specific topic? Then it might be beneficial to visit or call ZorgWijzer for more information about health insurance in The Netherlands.