Looking for information on marriage and parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands in 2019? 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 whole 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 2019, 18 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 (providing 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

So, you want to get married, but what about the whole ‘starting a family’? Now we’ll cover what rights you have and what you have to do to become parents. As exciting as it is, be sure to do further research to ensure that everything goes smoothly as it’s not always as easy as a heterosexual marriage/partnership with children. What’s important to know is that it’s totally possible in the Netherlands and here’s all the information that you need to know. 

Parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands

When a child is born, they are assigned to someone for parental responsibility, either through birth, marriage or adoption or guardianship. This gives them the rights 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. The process will be explained now:


Co-mothering in the Netherlands


However, this 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 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


Parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands: 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 and 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 the 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.


Parental rights for same-sex couples in the Netherlands: Male couples and parental rights in the Netherlands

However, 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)!

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. This is 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 and 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. Don’t forget to join our DutchReview Facebook group while you’re here too! There’s plenty more Dutch stuff where that came from. 😉


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