Minister van der Steur: making multiple parenthood and multiple parental authority possible

Making multiple parenthood and multiple parental authority possible, the establishment of a scheme for surrogacy and determining provisions for a child's right to know where it comes from. These are some of the 68 recommendations made by the Government Committee on the reassessment of parenthood in its report "Child and parent in the 21st century.

Minister Van der Steur (Security and Justice) accepted this report on 7 December from Chairman Aleid Wolfsen. "I am grateful to the Committee for the meticulous report, which contains many recommendations on modernizing family law. For the Cabinet, just as with the the Committee, the interests and rights of the child are paramount in the further development of the report,' says Minister Van der Steur. An increasing number of children are growing up in alternative living arrangements, such as with a cohabiting mother and father, a single parent, with two mothers or two fathers or in multiple-parent families (also called 'Rainbow families.)" The Minister emphasized that more flexibility in forms of legal parenting is necessary. He therefore would like to make multiple parenthood and multiple parental authority possible. The conditions under which this should be possible are still being developed. The report, with an initial response from the Cabinet, will be presented to the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament.

The Minister is also in favour of setting up a legal framework for surrogacy. In this way, legal certainty can be offered to all concerned, in particular the child. The Government Committee is concerned about some practices with respect to surrogacy, such as the unprotected position of the surrogate mother and the risk of child trafficking. The committee therefore sees added value in setting up a scheme under strict conditions. Through such a scheme, prospective parents are the legal parents of the child from the time of birth.

Some of the other 68 recommendations are: the establishment of a register for the origin of the child, allowing the unmarried or unregistered partners to make the desire for joint custody known before the birth, and the recommendation that children over eight years of age have the opportunity to be heard in procedures concerning origin and authority.

In order to assess the social support for the recommendations and to hear the views of concerned parties, the Ministry is planning to organize a Conference on this subject in February 2017. In addition, a meeting is being planned for and with children in the spring because their opinion is of utmost importance in the further development of the recommendations. Ultimately, the goal is to modernize family law and to adapt to thediversity of living arrangements in which a growing group of children is being raised.

The Government Committee was set up on 1 May 2014 in response to a motion from the SP Upper House parliamentary group. The mandate to the Government Committee was to advise the Government on issues concerning origin, multiple parenthood, multiple parental authority and surrogacy.
The Government Committee has spent the past two and a half years implementing this mandate.
In the coming period, the report will be carefully studied and developed further with the concerned organizations and ministries. A substantial number of recommendations must also be assessed for, among other things, financial and practical consequences. The results will be included in the considerations with respect to the follow-up.