All you need to know about marriage and parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands

Looking for information on marriage and parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands in 2020? Well, you’re in the right place…

Marriage for same-sex couples in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is known for its tolerance and openness to ‘be who you want to be.’ That’s why (despite many countries still not allowing this), the Netherlands was the first country in the world to allow same-sex marriage. This was made possible in 2001 and since then thousands of same-sex couples have married in the Netherlands.

In many other countries, despite it being 2020, 19 years after the Netherlands, they are no closer to legalising gay marriage. This is important to take into account if you choose to get married, as it may not be legally recognised in another country (even in Europe).

So, if you want to get married as a same-sex couple, you can, provided at least one of you is registered. (We have an article about getting married in the Netherlands here.)

parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands
Get keyed up on marriage and parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands. Image: Briannad26/Pixabay

Parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands

So, you’ve decided to get married, but what about the whole ‘starting a family’? What rights you have, and what you have to do to become parents? What’s important to know is that it’s totally possible in the Netherlands.

When a child is born, they are assigned to someone for parental responsibility, either through birth, marriage, adoption, or guardianship. This gives them the right to bring up the child and look after them. How this process works all depends on many factors: if either of you are the biological parents, if you are a female or male couple, and what role the sperm donor plays in the pregnancy. This all determines how to go about becoming legal parents in the Netherlands.

Co-mothering in the Netherlands

Co-mothering has been an issue in many other countries where same-sex marriage is allowed, but the child would only have on a legal parent. The partner would have to ‘adopt’ the child through the court. Since 2014, it was possible for co-mothers to both becoming the legal parent. This means that if a woman is married to another woman, they will automatically have joint responsibility for that child, so long as there is no legal father. This is possible when the child was the result of a sperm donor who is not wanting to bring up the child. These conditions must be met for this to happen:

  • You are married or a registered partner to the mother.
  • Once the birth is registered officially, a declaration needs to be sent from the Artificial Fertilisation Donor Information Office directly to the Registrar, to let them know that it was a sperm donation (who does not want to be the father).
parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands
Parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands: Make sure to prepare yourself beforehand. Image: Satyatiwari/Pixabay

 Becoming a legal parent through acknowledgement

This changes slightly if the donor is from a known person. If you are married or registered partners to another woman and you know who the donor is, you can become the child’s legal parent through acknowledgement. This can happen before or after the birth. Most people choose to do it before because that means as soon as the baby is born, you will be the co-mother automatically. You do this through the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Registered Partnerships.

The only exception to this is if the sperm donor acknowledges the child before birth. This means that the co-mother will not have parental responsibility. However, if this happens after the birth, then he will not automatically acquire parental responsibility, so you will have more rights to co-mother. It’s important to be in discussion with the donor to prevent any of these issues happening, as it can start to get extremely complicated and messy.

Male couples and parental rights in the Netherlands

Currently, for two males, the adoption route still applies. This means that if the child is theirs, but the other partner is not, then that partner would have to submit an application to a family court. If the child is not theirs biologically speaking, then both of them would have to apply to get joint responsibility. After that, they will be legally responsible for the child.

Parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands: Male partners need to go through a different process to become a dad(s)! Image: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

Same-sex couples acquiring guardianship in the Netherlands

It’s possible to get guardianship, other than parental responsibility for same-sex couples in the Netherlands. This means that although you may not be the parent, you are responsible for that child (as a guardian). You basically take over the rule of a parent, without actually being the parent. It’s the same process as if you were going through any other sort of guardianship and it is completely possible if you are a same-sex couple (this will not affect anything). So going down the guardianship route should be as easy for you as it is for anyone else.

So, there you have it. All you need to know about getting married as a same-sex couple and also acquiring rights over children born (or brought up) into same-sex marriages or partnerships. For any other info, don’t forget to check out the government website. If you’re unsure, don’t forget to reach out and ask them.

Have we missed anything? Do you have any experiences that you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments. 

Feature Image: Briannad26/Pixabay

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2019 and was fully updated in November 2020 for your reading pleasure.

Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.


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