New law gives automatic equal parenting rights to unmarried couples


A majority of MPs have voted for a law giving automatic parental rights to partners who are unmarried or in a registered partnership.

At the moment co-parenting partners may find that they have no legal status when it comes to the children if, for example, the mother dies. The new law, initiated by the ruling D66 and VVD, means that both partners will automatically share parental authority, if both have recognised the child.

‘This is a step forward both for unmarried parents and their children. The child will have a legal parent who also shares parental authority and the parent will have a more complete role to play. This goes beyond an emotional stake,’ D66 MP Vera Bergkamp said.

Some 75,000 children are born out of wedlock in the Netherlands every year, almost half of all newborns. Three quarters of unmarried parents apply for shared authority over the child but in a quarter of cases they don’t because they either forget to apply or do not wish to.

If couples separate or the mother of the child dies partners may have to face a lengthy court procedure to gain shared authority.

The new law, which will be effective from July 1 next year at the earliest, means that as far as parental authority is concerned, unmarried couples now have the same rights as married couples.

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