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Child custody

This is a print of a page on Rechtspraak.nl. Look for the most up-to-date information on Rechtspraak.nl (http://www.rechtspraak.nl). This page is printed on 01-01-1970.

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Child custody (voogdij) is parental authority exercised by someone other than the child’s parents. For example, after the death of one or both parents. Or if the parents are unable to exercise parental authority over the child, whether temporarily or permanently.

Child custody proceedings are governed by civil law. An application to the district court to appoint a guardian may only be made by a lawyer. Choosing who the guardian is does not require a lawyer.

Child custody

What is child custody? What is the difference between child custody and custody? Who can be a guardian, and under what conditions? What role does the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming (Child Care and Protection Board) play?

Child custody and custody

Custody means being responsible for the care and upbringing of a minor child. When exercised by a parent, this is known as parental authority (in Dutch). Child custody (voogdij) is parental authority exercised by someone other than the child’s parents.

Guardian designated by the parents or appointed by a judge

Parents may designate a guardian themselves:

  • in their will (via a notary);
  • by registering a guardian in the gezagsregister (Parental Authority Register) (via the district court).

The district court can appoint a guardian:

  • by request;
  • on its own initiative.

Advice from the Child Care and Protection Board

If the parents have not appointed a guardian and cannot exercise parental authority over the child (whether temporarily or permanently), the judge will appoint a guardian. Sometimes there are no guardians; other times there are multiple suitable guardians or there is a dispute about custody. The judge will then ask the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming (Child Care and Protection Board) for advice.

Start of child custody

Child custody starts when the guardian appointed by the judge or the parents declares that they are willing to accept the child custody.

The parents have appointed the guardian

In that case, the guardian submits a declaration of willingness to the district court. This must be done within 14 days of the notice of appointment being served on the guardian.

A judge has appointed the guardian

In that case, an oral declaration before the judge is sufficient. A handwritten declaration from the guardian is also permitted; this does not need to be submitted to the district court. There is no deadline, but the judge will only appoint a guardian once the guardian has accepted the child custody.

End of child custody

Child custody can end for several reasons:

  • when the child comes of age, in other words turns 18;
  • if one or both parents is once again able to care for the child;
  • if the guardian decides to stop being the guardian or is dismissed by the judge;
  • if the guardian dies, in which case the judge will appoint a new guardian.

Questions and answers

Can I, as a parent, unilaterally appoint a guardian?

Yes, you can. Both parents may designate a guardian independently of one another. If the parents die at the same time, the judge will decide who becomes the guardian.

In which situations does the judge appoint the guardian?

The judge will only appoint a guardian if the parents have not done this themselves or if the designated guardian cannot or will not perform their child custody duties.

How can I become the guardian of a young person from Curaçao in the Netherlands?

For child custody of minor children from the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, you do not need to go to court. The procedure is dealt with by the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming.
Read more about becoming the guardian of a young person from Curaçao (in Dutch)


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