Family law in the Netherlands needs to be drastically overhauled to cope with the changes in the way modern families are formed , according to a government commission.
In particular, the law needs to be changed to reflect the fact that a child can have more than two parents, the commission, under leadership of former Utrecht mayor Aleid Wolfsen, said.
An increasing number of children are growing up in non-traditional families with multiple parents. ‘Single parent families, rainbow families, merged families … the commission wants legal guarantees for the rights of children in all these sorts of situations,’ the report, presented to justice minister Ard van der Steur on Wednesday, states.
Genetic and legal parenthood are no longer the same and that can create serious practical and emotional problems, the commission concludes. The commission, which has taken 2.5 years to publish its report, has produced a list of 68 recommendations which it says will better protect children from a legal perspective.
For example, children should be able to have up to four legal parents, who together form a maximum of two separate households, the commission says.
Children have a right to know about their background and this should be more easy to trace, the commission said. In addition, the age at which a child can have an influence on which parent to live with in case of divorce should be reduced from 12 to eight.
The commission also recommends that multi-parent families should have to draw up a formal contract outlining agreements to cover the ‘care of the child, its main residence, the financial responsibilities and surname’.
In addition, multi-parent families need to take into account that not all countries will accept their family situation, the commission says. It recommends the government make a point out of getting new styles of family onto the international agenda.
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