When does parental responsibility end?

Your responsibility ends automatically when your child reaches the age of 18 or if they marry or enter into a registered partnership before then. The court may also decide to take responsibility away from you, for example if you mistreat your child.

Ending parental responsibility because of parenting problems

If you are having parenting problems you will usually be offered help by the municipality at first. If the voluntary approach is unsuccessful, or if you or your child do not accept assistance, a youth care agency will refer your case to the Child Protection Board (Raad voor de Kinderbescherming, Dutch website). The Board will assess whether your child's development is at serious risk. If it is, the Board will ask a children's judge (kinderrechter) to take responsibility away from you.

Decision by a children’s judge to remove parental responsibility

The judge can decide to give responsibility for your child to someone else. Since 1 January 2015 this has been done by a single court order removing parental responsibility (gezagsbeëindigende maatregel). Before that date the judge could choose between orders that would end responsibility either with the parent’s consent (ontheffing) or without consent (ontzetting). These two types of order have now been replaced by the new single order.

The judge will ask you to give your opinion at the hearing. A lawyer can help you with this. If your child is 12 or older, the judge will ask them for their opinion. If you do not agree with the judge's decision you will need to consult a lawyer, who will lodge an appeal for you.

Guardianship after removal of parental responsibility

If the children’s judge has taken parental responsibility away from you, a certified agency or foster parent will be given responsibility for your child. This means that the agency or foster parent will have guardianship of your child. Your child will be brought up in a foster family or a children’s home. Officially, you will no longer have authority over your child. The guardian will, however, involve you wherever possible and keep you informed about your child.

Duration of an order removing parental responsibility

The removal of responsibility lasts until your child is 18.

Ending joint parental responsibility

Are you and your partner splitting up? And have relations between you broken down completely with no hope of improvement? If so, you can ask the court to give parental responsibility to one of you. You will need to submit either a joint request or two separate requests to the court. The court will only grant this request in highly exceptional cases if it is essential in your child’s interests. After joint responsibility has ended and responsibility has been awarded to one of the parents, the other parent is still liable for the child’s maintenance.