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 a child and choose name
You must go to the municipality in person to officially acknowledge parenthood of your child and to choose a surname. This is possible in every municipality in the Netherlands. You must make an appointment to do this.
If you do not hold Dutch citizenship or you live outside the Netherlands, other rules may apply. You will receive more information and advice about your personal situation during your appointment.
The most important conditions for acknowledging parenthood of child:
- You are 16 years or older.
- You are not related to the mother.
- There are not already 2 parents.
- If the child is older than 12 and younger than 16: the mother and the child give permission for the acknowledging.
- If the child is older than 16: the child gives permission for the acknowledging.
The main conditions for choosing a name upon acknowledging are:
- Both parents are present at the name selection.
- You can only choose the surname for the first child in the relationship.
You will need the following for the appointment:
- A valid identity document for yourself.
- A valid identity document for the mother.
- If the child to be officially acknowledged is under the age of 12, the mother’s written consent to the official acknowledgement, unless she is present.
- If the child to be officially acknowledged is between the ages of 12 and 16, the consent of the mother and the child in person or in writing.
- If the child to be officially acknowledged is aged 16 or over, the child must be present. The child must choose their surname and consent to the official acknowledgement. The mother’s consent is not required.
Please note: if the child to be officially acknowledged is under the age of 16, the birth mother must attend in person if you want the child to be given the surname of the person having the child officially acknowledged.
To acknowledging a child and choose a surname, you must personally go to the municipality.Do you acknowledge the child when registering the birth? Then you go to the municipality where the child was born. Do you acknowledge the child before the birth or after the birth registration? Then you can go to any municipality in the Netherlands.
How to acknowledge a child:
- You come to the municipality
- Do you want to choose a surname when acknowledging your first child? Then the mother must also be present.
- You take with you to the municipality:
- a valid proof of identity for yourself
- a valid identity document from the mother
- written permission from the mother for the acknowledging, if she is not present
- written permission from the child for the acknowledging, if the child is older than 12 years
- Official acknowledgement and choice of surname are free of charge.
- You can apply for an akte van erkenning (acknowledgement of parenthood certificate) in the municipality where the acknowledgment took place. For a copy or extract from the civil status records costs you have to pay a fee. For more information, contact the municipality.
The acknowledgement cannot always be processed immediately. This depends on the personal situation of the child and the person acknowledging the child. For example, acknowledgement takes longer if the child was born before 1985 or if the person having the child officially recognised does not hold Dutch citizenship.
Do you disagree with the municipality's decision regarding the acknowledging of your child? Then file an appeal with the court.