Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Not Indiana but interesting anyway

I ran across this article, Marriage and divorce in the Netherlands, and I thought it interesting enough to mention here.

Dutch law recognises three sorts of “official” couples: marriage, registered partnership and cohabitation agreement. The Netherlands became the first country in the world to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry with the same rights as heterosexual couples. In the same way, gay couples may enter into a registered partnership.

To register for marriage, registered partnership or a cohabitation agreement, the law requires that one of the partners is a Dutch citizen or holds a valid residence permit to stay in the Netherlands (for exceptions, see below), and have a minimum income of 120 percent of the minimum wage level. If you wish to immigrate to live with, or to marry, you will have to be over the age of 21, have no “anti-social” or criminal record, and usually will have to take a language and integration test (see IND website for more information).

You must register (ondertouw) at least two weeks before the planned wedding day at the municipal registration office. Once granted, registration for marriage is valid for one year. Be aware that for the marriage to be legal it must always occur first in a civil ceremony; religious ceremonies traditionally take place anywhere from a few hours – to a couple of weeks later.
Note that the registered partnership and cohabitation agreements apply to heterosexual couples. I argued against the amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage because it would affect heterosexual relationships. Apparently, the Dutch saw no distinction between gay and hetero when making this law.

The article also mentions surnames and children and then splitting up. Here is what I found the interesting bits about divorce:

In the event the partners decide to end the relationship, a marriage can only be dissolved by court while a registered partnership can be terminated by the partners themselves. Legal separations are also possible. When the split is amicable, the couple can hire a lawyer to act as a neutral mediator to divide joint property; otherwise both sides must engage lawyers.

In the case of children in divorce, both parents retain parental rights and courts prefer in cases where there is no question of abuse that parents come to an agreement on how they will split parental duties. Currently, there is discussion as to whether a special form of prenuptial agreement may be developed to aid couples with children on the difficult subject of parenting after the divorce.
I cannot tell if the law requires court intervention when there one of their agreements and children. I rather think so.

Something for Hoosiers to think about.

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