Limitation of spousal support due to abuse of process

As of 1 January 2020 a new alimony law came into force, reducing the period of alimony for the ex-partner from 12 to 5 years. Last month, the District Court of Midden-Nederland ruled that there was an abuse of procedural law by an ex-wife who thought she could stretch the term of alimony from 5 to 12 years. In addition, the alimony was set at nil by the judge after two years.

What was this case about?

The wife had submitted her request for spousal support on the last day before the new law on spousal support came into effect. This meant that the old law applied to her application. The parties had no children together.

The starting point of the old law was that if the duration of the marriage did not exceed five years and no children were born from the marriage, the maintenance obligation would end after the expiry of a period equal to the duration of the marriage. This period shall start to run on the date of registration of the divorce in the registers of civil status.
When a marriage (without children) has lasted longer than five years, the basic principle is that the maintenance obligation ends after twelve years, although the court can decide, at the request of one of the spouses, that the partner maintenance ends earlier if there are reasons for this.

The court found that there were grounds here to limit the husband's maintenance obligation to the wife to five years, as it considered that the wife was unlawfully seeking to have the husband's maintenance obligation last for twelve years instead of five.

The divorce had in fact been pronounced between the parties when they had been married for 4 years and over 10 months. The marriage had not yet lasted five years, so the shortened term would apply. To extend this term, the woman appealed against the divorce. The woman only did this for strategic reasons, namely to ensure that the parties would be married for longer than five years when the divorce was registered. No other decisions had been taken apart from the divorce and it was clear that the woman wanted a divorce. She had filed for divorce herself. The court therefore ruled that she had committed an abuse of rights and the duration of the spousal support was limited to a period of five years after registration of the divorce in the registers.

In addition, the spousal support was set at nil by the judge two years after the registration of the divorce decree. The most important thing is that everyone, as far as possible, is obliged to provide for their own living expenses. The judge was of the opinion that the woman could be expected to be self-supporting again after a period of two years, as she was before the marriage. The parties had married at a later age and their marriage was relatively short. They did not have any children together and during the marriage the woman's chances on the labour market were not adversely affected. Prior to the marriage they each had a working life with a certain (own) level of income.

Do you have a discussion with your ex-partner about the amount and/or duration of the alimony? Then feel free to contact one of our lawyers without any obligation. We will be happy to assist you!

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