Getting legal advice as an expat in the Netherlands

Getting legal advice as an expat in the Netherlands

Getting legal advice as an expat in the Netherlands

Life as an expat in the Netherlands needs to be well-ordered, but what happens when legal advice is essential?

Let’s face it, life as an expat isn’t always predictable, with some problems desperately needing legal advice in the home country language. Wherever you’re located, unexpected issues can cause chaos if they’re not dealt with in a legally correct manner. For example, if you’re looking to get a divorce, appoint a guardian for your kids, deal with issues concerning your home or even divide an inheritance in accordance with Dutch law, you’re on your own without at least some idea of what needs to be done.

If you’ve expatriated with your children or are a single parent, appointing a guardian in case anything happens to you is most important. Previously, this would have been done as part of a formal will, but a new law now allows the appointment of a guardian via the Netherlands’ parental authority register. Apart from the usual copies of documents, getting this done is straightforward and inexpensive.

Inheritance laws tend to be confusing worldwide, even more so for expats who’re not certain which country’s rules apply to them. For most EU citizens, it’s fairly straightforward, but for British expats it’s more complicated and likely to be even more so once Brexit is finalised. Consulting a lawyer and making a will stating who gets what is the best way around this uncomfortable reality.

Divorce is another potentially legally complicated issue, but rather less so in the Netherlands, as it’s mandatory to use a Dutch lawyer, even though you’re not Dutch and weren’t married in the country. Again, divorce laws depend on many issues, but a Dutch judge can rule on your divorce even if it’s not linked to Dutch law. Using an international divorce lawyer is the best idea should this worst-case scenario become necessary.

Finally, what’s your legal redress if you’ve bought a home and it’s got many defects about which you weren’t aware? Again, you’ll need a lawyer, but you’ll hopefully remember the written agreement which listed any problematic issues. A real estate lawyer can examine your purchase agreement’s specific wording and tell you whether the defects are legal or constitute a breach of contract, as well as helping you decide what, if any, action to take.

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