Recognition by foreign husband of Dutch child

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Auteur: Carla Simmelink


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In the past, he had a brief relationship with a Dutch woman, Lisanne, when they lived together in Japan. Shortly after their relationship ended, Lisanne informed Thomas that she was expecting. She will not say whether he is the father or not. Thomas would like to have it officially confirmed that he is Simon’s (legal) father. The woman does not like that father and son have found each other.

Recognition by foreign husband of Dutch child

An Australian man, Thomas, lives with his family in Australia. In the past, he had a brief relationship with a Dutch woman, Lisanne, when they both lived in Japan. Shortly after their relationship ended, Lisanne informs Thomas that she is pregnant. She will not say whether he is the father or not.

Due to unexpected circumstances, the woman must return to the Netherlands immediately and she leaves no contact information. Thomas returns to Australia from Japan, where he lives with his family.

Thomas receives an unexpected phone call from a relative of Lisanne. He finds out that he has a son named Simon, who is already 10 years old. After receiving Simon’s phone number, Thomas contacts him.

Simon has never had a (different) father and he is happy to finally know who his father is. Thomas would like to have it officially confirmed that he is Simon’s (legal) father. The woman does not like that father and son have found each other. When the husband asks to recognize his son, the wife says she does not want to.

As the biological father, what can the husband do to acknowledge his child?

Thomas discovered after 10 years that he has a son in the Netherlands, a country with a legal system different from Australia. Faced with the reality that Lisanne, the mother, will not allow him to recognize his paternal rights, Thomas finds himself in a complex situation. The question arises: what are Thomas’s options as a foreign father to officially acknowledge his paternity?

First, Thomas must realize that his son’s place of residence is crucial to the legal action he can take. Because Simon lives with his mother in the Netherlands, the Dutch court is the competent court. Since Thomas has Australian citizenship, we will have to see if in the Australian Family Law Code a biological man can acknowledge a child; what are the requirements. If under the law of Australia there is no possibility for Thomas to acknowledge a child, then Dutch law will have to be applied. Under Dutch law, Thomas can acknowledge his son.

Thomas may therefore apply to the Dutch court for substitute permission to recognize Simon. This means that, in the best interests of the child, the court may decide to officially acknowledge Thomas’ paternity even without Lisanne’s consent.

Thomas approached Simmelink Lawyers to provide him with legal support for recognition

In the situation with Thomas, we discussed the situation first. Because Thomas lives in Australia, we have been in touch with Teams via video calls. We first discussed the situation with each other, why he thinks he is the biological father and determined if his child, Simon, is officially living in the Netherlands.

We then filed a “substitute consent and recognition” petition with the court. The court appoints a special guardian for the minor. Who advises whether it is in Simon’s best interest to be recognized by his father. The special trustee also wants a (legally valid) DNA test done. So do both father and son. They have buccal swabs taken. Simon does so with his family doctor and the man at a hospital in Adelaide. The results of the paternity test, in which cheek mucus was taken from father and son, showed that it was 99.999% certain that they were father and son.

Although the wife does not want the father to become Simon’s legal father, the court grants Simon’s request for substitute consent. The most important reason for this is that it is in Simon’s best interest that his family law bond also be officially confirmed.

Despite Lisanne’s objections, a new deed is attached to Simon’s birth certificate acknowledging Thomas as his legal father.

What are the legal steps in acknowledging paternity?

If a child lives in the Netherlands, a biological father, can ask the court for substitute permission to recognize his child. Cooperation from the mother is not required in this process.

Because of the complexity of international family law and the specific rules in the Netherlands, it is advisable for Thomas to consult a specialized Dutch lawyer. This can guide him through the necessary legal steps.

  • Determining whether child lives in the Netherlands
    Does the Dutch court have jurisdiction?
  • Discussing the situation, why father thinks he is the biological father
  • Filing petition “substitute consent and recognition”
  • Judge appoints special trustee on parentage
  • Special guardian (child’s lawyer) will hear child, mother, and possible biological father
  • Possibly perform legally valid DNA test by taking cheek mucus
  • Judge makes decision
  • A deed is attached to the birth certificate acknowledging the biological father as the legal father

What can you do? Contact for advice on recognition in cross-border paternity issues

If you find yourself in a similar situation involving cross-border family law issues, here are some essential insights and steps to consider:

  • Where the child lives plays a key role
    Does the child live in the Netherlands? Then Dutch law applies. This may affect your rights and obligations as a parent
  • Recognition can be done without a mother
    Even if the mother does not consent, Dutch law allows fathers to acknowledge their child. You can petition the court for substitute consent recognition.
  • Expert guidance is crucial
    Given the complexity of international family law, it is advisable to seek advice and guidance from a specialized Dutch lawyer.
  • DNA test may be decisive
    Consider a (legally valid) DNA test if there are doubts about biological parenthood. This can provide a clear picture and is often persuasive evidence in court.
  • Interests of the child are paramount
    The best interests of the child are essential. The court and the special trustee always takes this into account when deciding on recognition and other family law issues.

Contact us if you need advice on acknowledging paternity. Also, in the opposite situation, that a mother wants the biological father to become the legal father of a child. We can help you regardless of whether the biological father is of Dutch or foreign nationality.

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Auteur: Carla Simmelink

Carla Simmelink is advocaat en eigenaar van Advocatenkantoor Simmelink. Haar specialisaties zijn: familierecht, naamrecht en erfrecht in Nederlandse en internationale kwesties. Carla is een betrokken, geïnteresseerde gesprekspartner en gaat voor het beste resultaat. Pragmatisch en doelmatig behartigt zij uw belangen.

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