Child custody procedures

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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 procedures

Appointing a guardian

Parents can appoint a guardian themselves:

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

Appointing a guardian:
own initiative

Upon request, the judge may appoint a guardian. In most cases, the applicant wants to gain Child custody themselves. This may be a partner (who is not the child’s legal parent), a foster parent or another person who wants to be a guardian.

Appointing a guardian:
district court’s initiative

Have both parents died or are they unable (whether temporarily or permanently) to exercise parental authority over the child? And have the parents not appointed a guardian? Then the judge will appoint a guardian.

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. 

Costs of child custody proceedings

You pay a fee for the court to hear your case: this is known as griffierechten (court fees). There may be additional costs associated with a court case, such as lawyer’s fees.

Duration of child custody proceedings

Appointing a guardian

The district court will process your ‘Voogd aanwijzen’ (‘Appoint a guardian’) form. You will receive an extract from the gezagsregister (Parental Authority Register) within 2 weeks.

Appointing a guardian

The guardian appointed must make a declaration of willingness. This only happens after the parents have died or are temporarily unable to exercise their parental authority. As soon as the guardian has made this declaration of willingness at the district court registry, the proceedings will end.


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)

Contact the Rechtspraak Service Centre

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