How do I become a child’s guardian?

Guardianship (voogdij) is responsibility for a minor child that is exercised not by the parents but by someone else. The parents can appoint you in their will as their child’s guardian. They can also have someone’s name entered in the parental responsibility register, to be given responsibility for their child after their death. Or a court can appoint you as the guardian.

Requirements for guardianship of a minor

To be a child’s guardian (voogd) you must be legally an adult. You must not be suffering from a mental disorder or yourself be under a guardianship order for adults (curatele).

Parents appoint you guardian

Even before a child is born, the parents can name one or two individuals in their will as guardian(s) in the event of their death. Since 2014 it has been possible for parents to designate a guardian even without using a will. This can be done by having the person’s name entered in the Central Parental Responsibility Register (Centraal Gezagsregister) on the website

You can also complete the form for designating who is to have responsibility for your children after your death. As stated on the form, you must submit certain documents with it, for example a copy of your child’s birth certificate. You can deliver the form and the documents by post or by hand to a district court (rechtbank) near you.

Cost of having a guardian registered

It costs nothing to have someone’s name entered in the Central Parental Responsibility Register as your child’s guardian. But you will have to pay for the documents you get from the municipality.

Court appoints guardian

If a child’s parent dies and no guardian has been appointed, the court will appoint one, for example a family member. The court can also appoint a certified agency as the child’s guardian, for example a youth protection agency (stichting jeugdbescherming). A court can also appoint a guardian in other cases where nobody has parental responsibility, either temporarily or permanently. This can happen if a parent is ill or if the court removes responsibility from the parents.

Sometimes the court starts by appointing a provisional guardian, for example if the parents cannot cope with raising the child and swift intervention is required. The court always appoints a certified agency as the provisional guardian, by means of a child protection measure (kinderbeschermingsmaatregel). At the request of the Child Protection Board (Raad voor de Kinderbescherming) the court decides how to arrange permanent guardianship for the child.

Refusing guardianship

You are not obliged to become a guardian. You do not become a guardian until you agree to do so by filing a declaration of willingness (bereidverklaring) to accept guardianship with the registry (griffie) of a district court. If you refuse to become the guardian, the court will seek another suitable person or agency.

Joint guardianship with your partner

If you are a child’s guardian and you wish to exercise guardianship jointly with your partner, you can ask the court to arrange this. Parents may also appoint two individuals as guardians. Same-sex partners can also become a child’s guardians. The conditions for joint guardianship are as follows:

  • Your partner must have a good personal relationship with the child. The child must be able to grow up in a safe, familiar environment with both guardians. The court assesses this on a case-by-case basis.
  • The interests of the child are paramount and must not be jeopardised. Children aged 12 and over are always heard by the court.

Temporary guardianship of a child from the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Information on temporary guardianship of a child from the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (i.e. Aruba, Curacao and St Maarten, as well as Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius, pdf 236 kB, in Dutch) can be found on the website of the Child Protection Board (Raad voor de Kinderbescherming).