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The Dutch Parenting Plan

If you want a divorce, dissolvement of a registered partnership or get separated while having minor children with shared custody, the parents are obliged by Dutch national law to make a parenting plan.

Contents of the parenting plan

The law prescribes the minimal content of the parenting plan. It should at least contain:

  • if both parents after their separation will maintain shared custody;
  • on the address of which parent the children will be registered;
  • specified childcare arrangements;
  • how (often) the parents will inform and consult each other regarding the children;
  • how to cover the costs of the children.

If the children are a certain age, they also need to be involved in the making of the parenting plan. In that case the plan itself also needs to mention how their opinion was taken into consideration.

The Dutch national law forces separating parents to draw up a parenting plan to protect the interests of their children.

How is a parenting plan drawn up?

Arrangements for the children can be made through mediation. The mediator can then draw up the parenting plan and let the parents sign it.

The parents can also consult their own attorney at law, specialised in family and juvenile law. The attorney at law can consult with the other parent or their lawyer, to make arrangements to come to a signed parenting plan.

Signed parenting plan

When a parenting plan has been signed, an attorney at law can send it to a Court with a divorce petition or a petition to terminate a registered partnership. The Court will then pronounce the divorce or order termination of the partnership under endorsement of the parenting plan.

A parenting plan between parents that haven’t been married or haven’t had a registered partnership, can also be endorsed by a Court, but this isn’t mandatory by law.

Failure in producing a parenting plan

When parents for example don’t agree on the childcare arrangements or when the other parent has left the country with an unknown destination, a signed parenting plan cannot be obtained. Not having a signed parenting plan could mean the Court will deny a divorce or dissolvement of a registered partnership.

If a parent has tried to make a parenting plan though or can prove the impossibility of obtaining a signed parenting plan, the Court will, by exception, still pronounce the divorce or order termination of the registered partnership.


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Lennard Govers's picture

Lennard’s practice focusses on national and international family and juvenile law.

Lennard also acts as a registered mediator (ADR.MED®) in family law related disputes between individual parties.

Furthermore, Lennard is regularly appointed as guardian ad litem by the Courts of The Hague and Rotterdam.

In his spare time Lennard is a member of Vlietwensen and tries to dispute issues between neighbours in The Hague area as an official neighbourhood mediator.