As the co-mother, how do I become the legal parent of my partner’s child?

A co-mother (duomoeder) is the female partner of the biological mother. Since 2014 it has been possible for the co-mother to become the child’s legal parent without going to court. This can happen in two ways. Either she is automatically the child’s legal parent from birth. Or she can acknowledge the child before a registrar of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships (burgerlijke stand).

Becoming a legal parent automatically where the sperm donor is anonymous

A co-mother can become a legal parent automatically when the child is born. For this to happen the mother and the co-mother must be married or in a registered partnership and the biological father must be an anonymous donor. The meaning of anonymous donor is set out in the Human Fertilisation (Donor Information) Act (Wet donorgegevens kunstmatige bevruchting, in Dutch). In these cases it is clear that the father will not be involved in the child’s care and upbringing.

You can establish that the biological father was an anonymous donor using a declaration by the Artificial Fertilisation Donor Information Office (Stichting donorgegevens kunstmatige bevruchting; DKB). You can apply online for the legal parenthood declaration (verklaring juridisch ouderschap) on the website Donorgegevens.nl. You should submit this declaration to the registrar of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships (burgerlijke stand) when registering the child’s birth.

Becoming a legal parent as co-mother where the sperm donor is known

A child’s co-mother cannot automatically become the legal parent if the child was conceived with sperm from a known donor (such as a friend, acquaintance or family member). In that case the co-mother can become the legal parent by adopting the child or acknowledging them at the registry of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships. If the co-mother is married to or in a registered partnership with the mother, she can acknowledge the child before the birth. In that case she will be the legal parent from the moment the child is born.

Co-mother does not get responsibility if the donor acknowledges the child

If the sperm donor is the first person to acknowledge the child before its birth, then only the birth mother will have parental responsibility and the co-mother will not. By acknowledging the child, the donor acquires the legal status of father. This makes it impossible for the co-mother to meet the condition that there is no second parent.

If the two women are not married or in a registered partnership, only the birth mother has parental responsibility. The co-mother can acknowledge the child and after that apply to the court for joint responsibility with the birth mother.