Parents who intend to divorce are required by law to draw up and sign a parenting plan. The aim is to oblige parents to actively empathise with the situation of their children following their divorce. The legislator also intended to encourage parents to make arrangements with regard to the consequences of their separation for their children in order to prevent unnecessary conflicts and to ensure an equal division of the care for the children.
What does such a parenting plan look like? In essence, it is a framework of basic arrangements concerning, for instance, where the children will live, what the access rights are for the parent with whom the children are not living, how and how frequently parents should inform and consult each other about the children, and finally how the parents should contribute towards the care and education of the children.
Parents are at liberty to include other agreements in the parenting plan as well, such as a removal allowance scheme or the contact of the children with a new partner. Whatever must and can be agreed depends on the age of your children and your specific situation.
It is important that you should inform your children and involve them in drawing up the parenting plan in a way which takes account of their age, as children are a major party to the divorce. The law provides that the parenting plan should testify that you have done so.
Once children reach the age of 12 years they are given the opportunity by the court to express their views on the care arrangement. In that case, the court invites them to discuss the matter with the court.
If the child is unwilling to do so, he or she may also express his or her views in writing or indicate that he or she is refraining from doing so.
Advice for family law in the Netherlands
For advice on divorce and family law in the Netherlands, please contact Chantal van Baalen-van IJzendoorn at:
De Ruijterkade 143
1011 AC Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 261 0002