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
Why acknowledging parenthood of a child?
By acknowledging a child you arrange the following:
- The child and the acknowledgment will have a family-law relationship.
- You are responsible for the care and upbringing of the child until the age of 21. You also pay for study and food, for example.
- You and the child become each other's legal heirs.
- You choose which parent gives the child the surname. Think carefully about this. A surname once chosen cannot (usually) be changed.
- The child may acquire the nationality of the recognizer (this depends on the law of the country of which the recognizer is a national).
- You can only reverse the recognition in special cases. This can only be done through the court.
Are you not married or do you not have a registered partnership with the mother of the child? Or are you a co-mother? Then you can acknowledge your child by making an appointment at the Civil Affairs desk.
When do you acknowledge parenthood?
You can acknowledge your child before or after birth, but we recommend that you arrange this before birth. For example, your child legally has a father or a co-mother from birth.
Acknowledging your child before birth
- Valid ID of the mother.
- Valid proof of identity of yourself (the acknowledgment).
- If the mother does not come to the appointment: Acknowledge child form. Please note: the mother must come along when it is your first child together and the child receives your surname (from the acknowledgment). The mother must also come along if you choose that she has sole custody of the child.
- Do you or the mother not live in the Netherlands or only recently? Then more documents may be required. In that case, please contact the Civil Affairs department (14 030).
Acknowledging your child after birth
- If the mother does not come along: Acknowledge child form.
- Valid proof of identity for yourself (the acknowledgment), the mother (if applicable) and/or the child (if applicable).
- Is your child younger than 12 years old? Then you need permission from the mother. Is it your first child together and will your child have your last name? Then the mother must come to the appointment. Do you choose that only the mother has custody of the child? The mother must also come to the appointment.
- Is your child between 12 and 16 years old? Then both the mother and the child must give their consent. In any case, the child will come to the appointment. Is it your first child together and will your child have your last name? Then the mother must come to the appointment. Do you choose that only the mother has custody of the child? The mother must also come to the appointment.
- From the age of 16, the child only gives permission for the recognition and therefore comes to the appointment. If only the acknowledgment and child are present at the acknowledgment, then the acknowledgment will automatically receive authority (in addition to the mother). Do you choose that only the mother should retain custody of the 16 or 17-year-old child? Then the mother must also come to the appointment.