If you share parental authority of your children with your ex-partner, moving into a new home with them is not straightforward and moving abroad without the consent of your ex-partner’s is viewed as child abduction.
This post was reviewed and updated on 15 July 2020
Joint parental authority
When both parents share custody, consent is required before moving. Custody relates to the rights and responsibilities that parents have for their children. Custody confers decision-making rights, including the authority to decide where a child should live. Parents with joint custody have an equal say in their children’s domestic situation. If one parent moves without the consent of the other parent, it will count against them in court proceedings.
Unilateral measures are not viewed favorably. A parent in this position will need to have very good reasons why the judge should not order them to move back, though this obviously depends on the age of the children, how long they have been in their new home and other factors.
Where you have sole custody of your child, there is no official requirement to seek the consent of your ex-partner before moving with your child. However, in recent times courts have drawn different conclusions.
One example is a provisional ruling by the Midden-Nederland district court in 2014. The mother had sole parental responsibility but their son lived with his father for half the time. The mother moved without the father’s consent. The distance involved meant they effectively no longer shared parental duties. The court granted an injunction on the basis that despite having sole custody, the mother was not free to move home with the parties’ son without his father’s consent. Father and son had a strong bond and had always lived together in a family situation. Moving compromised the interests of the father to an unacceptable degree. The court concluded that the interests of the parties’ son was best served if he continued to live in the previous settled situation. The mother had already moved home. This meant the court provisionally entrusted the father with the parties’ son pending a permanent decision on where the son should live.
We can draw 3 conclusions from this judgment:
- Even if you have sole custody, it does not necessarily mean that you can move with your child to a new home without your ex-partner’s consent.
- If you move home without the consent of your ex-partner, be aware that this will not be approved retrospectively by a court. Judges are not impressed by parents who act unilaterally.
- You should be aware that in such cases the court may well rule that your child should live with your ex-partner if they have requested this.
Marjet Groenleer is an attorney-at-law and associate partner at GMW lawyers in The Hague. She has been active in family law for more than 15 years, focused on on (international) divorces. Marjet is a trained divorce mediator with the vFAS (Dutch Association of Family mediators and lawyers).
Marjet has a particular interest and a profound knowledge of the international aspects of family law. She is an expert in dealing with complex financial and multi-jurisdictional cases of an international family breakdown. Because of her experience and previous jobs, she is familiar with several foreign legal systems. A great number of her clients are expats. She understands the needs of expats working for the various international organisations and companies based in The Netherlands, specifically in the area of The Hague (lsuch as EPO, Estec, OPCW, NATO, the tribunals, ICC, Shell, etc.)
Marjet worked as a lecturer in International Civil Law for several years and at the Court of Appeals in The Hague in the family law sector. Today, she is a deputy judge in the Court of Appeals in Amsterdam. Marjet publishes regularly in professional journals and keeps you informed of the various complex aspects of (international) divorces with her weblogs.