Government sets up national commission to review parenthood

Over the next two years, a national commission will be examining issues associated with legal parenthood, multiple parenthood, multiple parental responsibility and surrogate motherhood. The cabinet set up the commission at the suggestion of Fred Teeven, State Secretary for Security and Justice. The commission is expected to publish its findings on 1 March 2016.

Social and technological developments are leading to changes in and greater understanding of family structures. These developments are raising new questions about the role of parents, the bond between parent and child and how individuals develop. With a view to future developments, the national commission will begin by examining the basic principles of the law of parentage and the emergence of different forms of legal parenthood, such as biological and social parenthood. It will also map the legal possibilities for multiple parenthood, multiple parental responsibility and surrogate motherhood.

Experts will also advise on ways of accommodating a wide range of varying family situations. This includes asking whether the current basic principle that a child cannot have more than two legal parents and that parental responsibility cannot be shared by more than two people will need to change. The commission will draft a proposal for a statutory provision if it concludes that multiple parenthood or multiple parental responsibility needs to be facilitated.

Finally, the commission will look at whether the Netherlands requires a statutory provision for surrogate motherhood and, if so, what form it should take. Developments abroad will be studied carefully. The commission will consist of a broad-based group of specialists. Experts with in-depth knowledge of children’s law and of Dutch law of persons and family law will be joined by a doctor, an education expert and an ethicist.