First published in ACCESS Spring 2017 Magazine
Be aware: Dutch law on moving with children without permission of your ex
If you and your ex-partner have joint custody of your children, you cannot just move house and take them with you. Moving abroad with the children without the permission of your ex-partner is considered to be child abduction, with all associated consequences. A move within the national borders without the permission of your ex-partner is also not permitted. You will first have to go to court to get permission if your ex-partner refuses.
Permission to move to a new address is required for parents who have joint custody of their children. Custody indicates control and therefore also decision-making powers to determine where a child lives. Parents with joint custody have equal control over the place of residence of the child. If a parent nevertheless moves without the permission of the other parent, he or she is immediately 1-0 down in the ensuing court proceedings. This parent must have extremely good reasons for the court not to reverse the move.
If you have sole custody of your child, you, in principle, do not need the permission of your ex-partner to move with your child. This principle, however, has lately been reconsidered by the court.
An example case included a mother with sole custody of the son, to the exclusion of the father. Half the time their son lived with the father. The mother moved house without the father’s permission, and because of the distance, co-parenting was impossible. The father and son always had a good relationship and always lived as a family unit. The interest of the father had been unacceptably compromised by the move. In interlocutory proceedings, the court determined that despite the mother having sole custody, she was not at liberty to move with the son without the permission of the father. The court was of the view that the interest of the son was served by him staying in his old, familiar environment. Since the mother had already moved, this meant that the court entrusted the son for the time being to the father, pending a final decision on the place of residence for the son.
Three conclusions can be drawn:
- Even if you have sole custody, this does not always mean that you can move with your child without the permission of the other parent.
- If you move with your child without the permission of the other parent, you must take into account that this will not necessarily be retroactively approved by the court. Judges are not keen on people taking the law into their own hands.
- You must also be aware that in that case the court may determine that the place of residence for your child will be with the other parent if he or she has requested this.