Divorce, alimony reforms proposed by coalition

Members of parliament Jeroen Recourt (PvdA) and Ard van der Steur (VVD) presented on Wednesday a new law on child support that they hope will make alimony rules fairer and clearer, de Volkskrant reports.

The starting point for the law is that alimony payers find the current rules unfair. The new law therefore removes the court's power to dictate alimony and instead gives parents the responsibility to determine the amount themselves via a calculation system, which is included in the law.

Recourt and Van der Steur hope that more transparency will lead to less conflict between divorced parents and thus less harm to the children. "Our proposal does not prevent divorce disputes," Recrout is quoted as saying in the newspaper. "But the number of conflicts will drop. It is in the child's interest for parents to separate smoothly."

According to Van der Steur, the system is confusing to many parents. "We must get rid of it because everything you do not understand in a divorce evokes an emotional response."

The MPs newly proposed calculating system is a simple online tool that makes a calculation on the basis of certain variables.

In the current system, after a divorce, parents are required to draw up a parenting plan that must include agreements on alimony. Tables from the National Institute for Budget Information (Nibud) are used to calculate the amounts needed for the children's education in combination with the parents' means. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, the judge makes a decision.

Stepparents will also no longer play a role in the alimony obligations for a partner's children, a move expected to reduce related conflicts. The MPs also seek for the alimony to apply to children up until they are 18 instead of 21. A footnote, however, specifies that a child's studies must be paid for until age 23 to prevent alimony from stopping halfway through the child's education.

The new rules will not take effect before 2016, as the full consideration of a legislative proposal usually takes at least a year.

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