Divorced parents face tougher sanctions for ignoring custody plans

Parents who fail to keep to custody arrangements after separating could face tougher sanctions under new measures being put forward in parliament.

A cross-party group of MPs led by Socialist Michiel van Nispen, Sven Koopmans of the VVD and D66 member Vera Bergkamp say obstructive parents should be taken to court more often and sent to prison if necessary.

The MPs say there are currently too many cases in which children lose contact with one of their parents after divorce because the other partner denies access.

‘It needs to be made very clear that custody arrangements must be adhered to,’ said Koopmans. ‘If one of the parents is constantly frustrating and obstructing that aim over a long period, we need to have an effective deterrent.’

Sander Dekker, minister for legal protection, said the initiative was a ‘good move’ that he broadly supported. However, he was more critical of a related plan to require the courts to change the presumption in divorce proceedings so that custody would be shared equally between both parents unless there was a good case for doing otherwise. Dekker said the interests of the children should remain the number one priority in deciding custody.

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