Parental responsibility and guardianship

All minor children are subject to either parental responsibility or guardianship. Parental responsibility is exercised by the child's parents. Guardianship is exercised by someone who is not one of the child's parents. It is up to the person or persons with parental responsibility, or the guardian, to make decisions about the child's care and upbringing and to administer the child's property.

Parental responsibility

Parents who are married or in a registered partnership automatically acquire joint responsibility for the children born to them, or which they adopt, during their marriage. In other cases, parents have to report to the court that they intend to conduct parental responsibility.

Responsibility for children in relationships between two women or two men

Separate rules apply in the Netherlands for children born into relationships between two women or two men. If two women are married or in a registered partnership and one of them gives birth to a child, they automatically acquire joint responsibility if there is no lawful father. This applies in the case of an anonymous donor or a known donor who does not acknowledge paternity.

If two men want to acquire joint responsibility (in the case of one parent and one non-parent) or joint guardianship (in the case of two non-parents) for a child, they must submit an application to a family court. They will not automatically acquire joint responsibility or guardianship. If two men adopt a child, they do both acquire responsibility.


Aside from parental responsibility, the Netherlands also has a separate form of responsibility for children, called guardianship. Guardianship is responsibility for a minor child that is exercised not by the parents but by someone else. The right and obligation to care for a child then passes from the biological parents to the guardian.