What does responsibility for a child involve?
If you have responsibility for a child, you are responsible for that child’s care and upbringing. You are nearly always liable for the child’s maintenance (financial support). You are also the child’s legal representative, and you manage their money and possessions. All minor children in the Netherlands are subject to parental responsibility. That means they can’t take certain decisions for themselves. Usually this responsibility rests with one or both of the parents. But a non-parent can also have responsibility for a child.
Care and upbringing
If you are responsible for a child’s care and upbringing, you have to provide them with food, clothes and somewhere to live.
Liability for maintenance
If you have responsibility for a child, you are liable for the child’s maintenance until they are 21 years old. Upon reaching the age of 18 the child legally becomes an adult, but the duty of maintenance continues for three years after that. This means that you have to pay for the child’s care and education. Even if you are a parent without legal responsibility you still have a duty to maintain the child.
If you are a non-parent who for some time has shared responsibility for a child with one of the parents, you still have a duty to maintain that child even after joint responsibility ends. In that case, your liability as a non-parent lasts for the same length of time that the joint responsibility lasted. The only situation where you don’t have a duty to maintain a child under your responsibility is if you have sole guardianship (without a partner).
Minor children are often not allowed to perform official acts on their own. For example they can’t sign official documents or bring court cases. If you have responsibility for a child, you are that child’s legal representative. So you perform these acts on behalf of the child. If the child is under the age of 14, you are legally liable for anything they do. For example, you have to pay for any damage they cause. In the case of a child between 14 and 16, whether you are liable depends on the situation. From the age of 16 a child is personally liable for their own actions.