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Parental responsibility

In the Netherlands both parents have joint parental responsibility (“gezag“) both during marriage or civil partnership and after a divorce or legal separation. Both parents have an equal say in matters regarding the upbringing and education of the children. Only in cases where a parent is deemed wholly unfit to fulfil their parental responsibilities, the court can grant the parental responsibility to one parent.

Access to the children

In March 2009 the Netherlands has introduced a new statute establishing that both parents have equal rights to access and the law now obliges the parent that the children reside with to promote contact between the children and the other parent after the divorce. The child also now has its own right to access to their parents.

Access between a parent and a child can only be denied when that parent is deemed unfit to have access. Cases where access is totally denied by the courts are much rarer since the introduction of this legislation, which has been hailed as an improvement of (mainly) fathers rights.

When getting divorced, it is inevitable that parties consider the future of any children. But what are your legal rights and obligations as parents after a divorce?

Information disclosure

Parents are legally obliged to disclose relevant information and consult each other regarding the upbringing and education of the children. Even if the courts have temporarily denied access, the legal obligation to inform the other parent on the well being of the children remains in force, unless leave has been given by court order to withhold information.

Child maintenance

Child maintenance provides a financial contribution towards the upbringing and education of the children and is owed to the parent predominately taking care of the children. Child maintenance is mandatory until the child turns 18 years of age. After the child has reached their majority a further contribution may be owed if the child is still studying or cannot financially provide for itself. In such cases maintenance is owed until the child turns 21 years of age. What amount of child maintenance a parent is actually able to pay, is determined on the basis of their income.

If the parents have a joint custody agreement whereby the children spend roughly half their time with both parents, separate financial arrangements can be made to split the costs of living between both parents rather than setting a fixed amount of child maintenance.

Parenting plan

If minor children are involved when getting a divorce, Dutch law now requires that parties agree on a parenting plan, setting out the future roles of the parents after the divorce. The plan must at least include arrangements regarding parental access and financial provisions for the children. This plan must be filed at the same time as the divorce petition, so parents are now forced to consult with each other on future arrangements for the children at an early stage. If no parenting plan is filed, then the courts may refuse to hear the divorce petition. In some cases a court may also prescribe mediation to see if parties can come to an agreed solution under the guidance of an impartial professional.

Our lawyers can help you to draft a parenting plan and can advise you with regards to your legal rights as a parent. We always bear in mind what is in the best interest of the children and will not litigate needlessly, but we will take all necessary legal measures if the other party will not see reason. We can also start injunction proceedings to obtain immediate access to the children, should access be denied in the course of the divorce proceedings.


For additional information please feel free to contact our office 0031 10 209 2777, or by e-mail info@lvh-advocaten.nl



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