Child with luggage at the ariport

Legal matters involving children


This article is provided by our partner, SCG Advocaten


What should you consider if you live in the Netherlands with your children? The law differs from country to country with respect to your rights and duties as a parent. Here are some legal matters to keep in mind as a parent in the Netherlands.


Parental authority

Parents who are married both automatically have joint parental authority over their children. This remains the case even if the marriage has ended. Only in very extreme cases is the parental authority assigned to just one parent.

The unmarried partner of the mother only gets parental authority after an entry has been made in the Dutch parental responsibility register ‘ouderlijk gezagsregister’. Legal recognition is insufficient. The unmarried father becomes the legal father after the recognition, but he does not have parental authority. If the mother does not agree to exercise joint parental authority of the child, the Dutch court can be asked to intervene.

A parent also has parental authority if this is the case under foreign law, and this parental authority is recognised in the Netherlands on the basis of a treaty or European regulation.

Dutch law does not include the concept of “custody”. Parental authority and custody are not the same thing, however often mixed up. Under Spanish law, for example, both parents retain joint parental authority after divorce, but the mother may be awarded sole custody. This could mean that she is the parent who, to the exclusion of the father, decides which school their children attends or even where their children live.



Parents exercising joint parental authority need each other’s permission to travel with their children. It is important to bring a completed copy of the Authorisation form for travelling abroad with a minor when the child is travelling with only one parent.

You are obliged to produce this form when asked by an immigration authority at Schiphol Airport.



If a parent wants to move abroad with the child, permission of the other parent with parental authority is necessary. If this permission is lacking, permission could be requested from the Dutch court. The Dutch court will then decide on the basis of various criteria developed in case law whether it considers a move to be in the best interests of the child. Since the child lives in the Netherlands, the parents must surrender to the Dutch court (in most cases), even if their child do not have Dutch nationality. If a parent moves with the child without the permission from the other parent with parental authority, then this would fall under civil child abduction where the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention may apply.


What you need to remember

  • The unmarried father does not automatically have joint parental authority, also not after legal recognition of his child.
  • For traveling with your child, you need permission from the other parent with parental authority.
  • You cannot relocate with your child without consent of the other parent with parental authority.
  • If you do so, it is considered civil child abduction.