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Family Dutch Law

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The Netherlands has always been a multicultural society:

From the RELIGIOUS viewpoint:

o In the NorthProtestants were the majority

o In the Souththe Catholics.

o The Netherlands can be seen as a country where the Islamic belief among our inhabitants has rapidly grown in the past years, thanks to the great number of inhabitants coming originally from countries such as Morocco, Turkey, China, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Vietnam, etc.

Diversity also typifies PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES.

This diversity can also be found in the BROADCASTING CORPORATIONS

And diversity from POLITICAL GROUPS.

Thus, it is interesting to see how in such a diverse country the family law has been codified and whether our family law (still) lays the foundations for this diversity between:

- Sexes

- Races

- Origins.

In the general trends in family law in the Netherlands, we have to be aware of the fact that at a supra-national level, the activities of the Council of Europe and the United Nations are important for us, especially because Dutch law can be superseded by international law:

 The Council of Europe has a lot of activities concerning the family, usually because the Committee of Ministers or the conferences of specialized ministers ask for actionUsually, the purpose of the Resolutions agreed by the Committee of Ministers is to find general solutions for general family problems in the different Member States and to seek for unity where possible.

 For example, the purpose of the Resolution (78)37 on equality of spouses in civil law we can look at the proposals and we can see the following:

1. Civil law should contain no provisions whereby a spouse is put in a more advantageous position than the other spouse by being designated to act as the head of the family.

2. both spouses should have equal rights as regards to freedom of movement, choice of occupation and choice of the common residence;

3. equality in the choice of a family name;

4. the removal of discrimination between spouses as regards marriage contracts and property;

5. equality of the spouses as regards contribution to household expenses;

6. equality of rights and obligations as regards maintenance;

7. equal responsibilities for their children, particularly in regard to:

a. their children's property

b. the choice of their surname

c. and their legal representation.

Interesting developments in Netherlands family law can be mentioned:

- In the Netherlands there is NOT a specific Family Code, although a part of the Civil Code is reserved for family matters (Book 1 of the Civil Code).

- This part of the Civil Code, family law (including child law) can be found in a lot of other codes and regulations and in international conventions, such as:

o the Children's Rights Convention

o the European Convention on Human Rights.


In the Netherlands 'family' and 'family life' are not limited to traditional concepts of the family. Apart from the traditional family of a man and a woman who are married and have children, the notion of a 'family' is - in the words of one of the former ministers - also used to describe other primary living units in which the care and upbringing of children takes placeAs examples can be mentioned the following:

- single parent families

- mostly a mother with her children

- or persons living together:

o married or unmarried

o of the opposite sex or of the same sex.

So, regardless of the composition of the people living together, as soon as there are children to be raised, it is called 'a family' in the Netherlands.


1. In the opinion of the Netherlands government, FAMILY LIFE IS CONSIDERED TO BE AN ABSOLUTELY PRIVATE AFFAIR. It is not considered to be the job of the government to interfere with the way in which people shape their way of life or their family life, unless there is a very good reason like the interest of the childrenDomestic violence (women and children) is one of the main issues in the policy.

 Usually, interference in family life to protect children is allowed if parents or other educators maltreat or abuse their child(ren).

 With regard to basic cultural values and beliefs, there is a general acceptance in the Netherlands of freedom of choice over the sort of relationshipThe Dutch Supreme Court decided on October 1990 that there had been unjustified discrimination against homosexual couples when compared with heterosexual couples in the right to marrySo our legislator then took the initiative to make new regulations for homosexual couples:

 At first, legislation made it possible for couples to register as partners at the registrar's officeThis registration of partnership was allowed for:

 homosexuals, who could not marry

 heterosexuals who did not want to marry.

The registration of partnership did not have any effect for children who would be born in such a registered partnership.



a. improvement of rights between social parents and child

b. contest of paternity

c. equal treatment of children born outside marriage





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