Are you having a child, and you and the birth mother are not married or in a civil partnership? You, as a father or the female partner of a birth mother, can become a legal parent if you officially acknowledge parenthood of that child. This can be done free of charge through your municipality.
Acknowledging parenthood of a child as the father
Are you a man who is married or formed a civil partnership with the birth mother of your child? Then you do not need to formally acknowledge parenthood of the child, as you will automatically be recorded as the legal father. This applies even if you are not the biological father of the child.
Acknowledging parenthood of a child as the female partner of the birth mother
Are you a woman who is married to, or in a civil partnership with, the birth mother? If so, you do not need to acknowledge parenthood if you used an anonymous sperm donor for the pregnancy. As the female partner of the birth mother, you will automatically be considered the child’s mother. However, you do need to prove, when registering the birth, that the sperm donor is not known to you.
Did you use a sperm donor who is known to you? If so, the female partner of the birth mother will not automatically be considered the child’s mother. In this case, you will have to acknowledge parenthood of the child yourself. This is the case even if you are married to, or in a civil partnership with, the birth mother.
Acknowledging parenthood of a child is subject to the following conditions:
- you are at least 16 years old;
- the birth mother has given her consent if the child is under the age of 16;
- you cannot acknowledge parenthood of a child if you are not permitted to marry the birth mother, for example because you are a close blood relative of hers;
- there must not already be 2 parents. Has the child been adopted by the birth mother’s female partner, for example? If so, the biological father will no longer be able to acknowledge parenthood of that child.
- Have you been placed under a conservatorship (in Dutch) on account of your physical or mental state? If so, you will first need to obtain authorisation from the regional court.
Acknowledging parenthood of a child during pregnancy
You can acknowledge parenthood of a child in any municipality in the Netherlands if they have not yet been born. This is referred to as acknowledging parenthood of an unborn child (erkenning van de ongeboren vrucht).
Will the expectant mother not be present when you acknowledge parenthood of your child? If so, she must give her written consent to the acknowledgement.
Is your partner expecting a multiple birth? If so, the acknowledgement applies to all the children with whom your partner is pregnant at that time.
Acknowledging parenthood of a child when registering the birth
You can acknowledge parenthood when you register the birth. You register the birth in the municipality where the child was born.
Will the expectant mother not be present when you acknowledge parenthood? If so, she must give her written consent to the official recognition.
Acknowledging parenthood of a child after registration of the birth
You can also acknowledge parenthood of a child if they are already older, or even an adult. You can do this in any municipality in the Netherlands.
Is your child over the age of 12? If so, you will need written consent from the child and their birth mother. If the child is over the age of 16, only the child’s consent is required.
- You must acknowledge parenthood of each child separately. This includes a second or subsequent child from a relationship. This does not happen automatically, unless you were married or in a civil partnership prior to the birth.
- When acknowledging parenthood of the first child officially, you choose whose surname the child will have: the birth mother’s or yours. All subsequent children from the same relationship are automatically given the same surname as the first child.
- Was the child legally acknowledged before 1 January 2023? Then the parents do have to apply to the district court for joint custody.
- When acknowledging a child if not married or in a civil partnership with the birth mother after 1 January 2023 then you will automatically be granted joint custody (in Dutch). There are exceptions (in Dutch) such as when acknowledging the child you both declare that the birth mother is granted sole custody.
This is how it works for you
Here is some information from your municipality.
Acknowledging parenthood of your child in the Netherlands
To acknowledge a child and choose a surname you make an appointment and visit the municipality.
You can acknowledge a child even if you are not the biological parent.
What you need to arrange to become a legal parent depends on when you acknowledge the child: before the birth, at the registration of birth or after the registration of birth
Before the birth
- You acknowledge the child during pregnancy. This is officially called acknowledging the unborn child
- When acknowledging the 1st child, the mother must be present to give consent. When acknowledging a subsequent child, the mother may give written consent
- From birth, you are the legal father or twin mother
- Is this the 1st child of you and your partner? Then you can choose to give the child the surname of the father or duo mother. You do this upon acknowledgement. Both partners sign the deed of acknowledgement of the unborn child
- If you don't choose a surname then the child will automatically get its mother's surname. Subsequent children within this relationship will automatically be given the same surname. More information on choosing a surname for your child
At registration of birth
- For acknowledging when registering the birth, the child's mother must give her consent
- When acknowledging the 1st child, the mother must be present to give consent. It is therefore more convenient if you arrange acknowledgement of the 1st child before the birth
- If you choose your surname at the time of acknowledgement, the mother must give her consent. More information on choosing a surname for your child
- Is a child born from a marriage or registered partnership between 2 women? Then you can become a mother together if you have a declaration from the Stichting Donorgegevens Kunstmatige Bevruchting (Foundation for Donor Data on Artificial Fertilisation) when registering your child
After registration of birth
- Anyone without a legal father can be acknowledged
- If the child is younger than 12, the mother must give consent
Acknowledgement not possible
You cannot acknowledge a child if the child has died.
Other conditions for acknowledging parenthood
- If you do not have the Dutch nationality, you have to prove with an unmarried declaration that you are not married abroad
- Do you want to acknowledge a foreign child? If so, this may have consequences for the child's nationality. Please contact us on telephone number 0031 35 207 00 00
- An identity document (passport, id card, driving licence)
- Is the mother not coming with you to the appointment? Then you will need written consent with the mother's signature. Also bring a copy of the mother's identity document
Acknowledging a child or unborn child is free of charge.