MPs upbeat on parental rights for unmarried fathers proposal

Father with newborn baby (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Leslie L. Tomaino)Father with newborn baby (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Leslie L. Tomaino)

Dutch parliamentarians are positive about the D66's legislative proposal to automatically give unmarried fathers who acknowledge their child, parental rights for that child.

D66 parliamentarian Vera Bergkamp announced the proposal on Tuesday. Under the current law, unmarried fathers have to go to their city hall to acknowledge their child. Then the fathers have to go to court to establish their parental authority over the child. A father that acknowledges a child is obliged to care for the child. Inheritance and surnames also fall under acknowledgement. Parental authority means that the father can also act as legal representative of the child. Like the mother, he then also has a say about how the child is raised, educated and cared for. With married parents or parents registered as a couple, both automatically have parental authority of their child.

The D66 wants to change this. The party wants parental authority for unmarried fathers to be given at the same time the father acknowledges the child. "Since 2012, half of children are born to unmarried children", Bergkamp said. "In addition, the current law creates problems at the death of the mother or divorce." The D66 wants to submit the final proposal before the end of the year.

So far the proposal was generally well received in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. The SP and VVD are both in favor of the proposal. Both parties already raised the issue of changes to family law with the Ministry of Security and Justice. "The D66 proposal runs ahead of that, but that does not matter. One way or another, the point is to adjust it", a VVD spokesperson said to the newspaper. The SP is "very sympathetic to this proposal from the D66", MP Michiel van Nispen said.

The PvdA is also in favor of the proposal, but does have some reservations. "The purpose of the proposal is worth pursuing, but I'm curios about the legal effect." MP Keklik Yucel said to Trouw.

Christian parties CDA and ChristenUnie will reserve judgement until the final bill is handed in. The SGP is against. Chairman Kees van Staaij suggests that parents "just get married" on Twitter. "If you so badly want living together to look like marriage, simply get married. If I want a German Shepherd, I don't turn a Pekingese into a German Shepherd."