Teeven and Van Rijn improving position of children in acrimonious divorces

State Secretaries Fred Teeven (Security and Justice) and Martin van Rijn (Health, Welfare, and Sport) are taking measures to improve the precarious position of children embroiled in acrimonious divorces. The State Secretaries have drafted plans for that purpose, because they believe that children should never be the victims of an acrimonious divorce.

While the parents are, foremost, responsible for maintaining decency throughout their divorce proceedings, (government) authorities must identify and resolve potential problems early on while minimising the harm to children. The State Secretaries' new plans contribute to that objective.

Focus on children

A nationwide information campaign focusses on appealing to the parents and the social network of the parents and children, so that problems can be timely detected to prevent or minimise harm. Children are given a louder voice through the launch of an online workshop by children for parents, as well as through the improved use of the special guardian.

Better trained professionals

Messrs Teeven and Van Rijn are launching pilots focussed on the organisation of preventive aid offered by municipalities in the case of divorce. Youth Care Netherlands (Jeugdzorg Nederland) is compiling a manual for social workers. After all, it is the social workers who have to deal with households in which there is an impending or actual escalation of a divorce and who have to timely sound the alarm to prevent or minimise harm. Furthermore, the judiciary wants to launch two pilot projects in which a single judge handles the entire divorce procedure.

Broad support

While preparing the plans, Messrs Teeven and Van Rijn consulted parents, children, the judiciary, the legal profession, municipalities and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten, VNG), the Child Care and Protection Board (Raad voor de Kinderbescherming), the Inspectorate for Youth Care (Inspectie Jeugdzorg), various scientists, and the Children Ombudsman (Kinderombudsman). They are knowledgeable about problematic divorces and share the concerns of the State Secretaries.

Acrimonious divorce

A divorce is considered acrimonious when parents are no longer able to prioritise the interests of their children. As a result, the child risks being confronted with divided loyalties and even ending up with only partial or no contact with one of the parents. This enhances the risk of the children developing emotional problems, poor(er) performance in school, and often (future) problems with the development of relationships.