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Netherlands: Parenting Plans Required in Cases of Divorce

(Mar. 18, 2009) Under the Promotion of Continued Parenting and Proper Divorce Act (Wet bevordering voortgezet ouderschap en zorgvuldige scheiding), which took effect in the Netherlands on March 1, 2009, parents must record agreements about their children in a “parenting plan,” in cases of divorce, termination of a registered partnership, legal separation, and also where cohabiting parents have joint custody of their offspring. As a result of the law's enactment, moreover, “flash divorces” – a procedure through which a marriage is converted into a registered partnership at the registry of births, deaths, and marriages and then the partnership is terminated – will no longer be possible. (Press Release, The Netherlands Ministry of Justice, From 1 March: Parenting Plan Compulsory in the Case of Divorce (Feb 27, 2009), available at

The principle underpinning the Act is that both parents have responsibility for their children after a divorce. Where joint custody is maintained, “proper and verifiable agreements” are essential to obviate future problems. (Id.) The parenting plan, which is to be part of the petition for a divorce, should include agreements in three key areas: division of care and parenting duties, child maintenance, and exchange of information on important issues pertaining to the personalities and assets of the children. A mediator, referred by the court, may assist in drawing up the plan. (Id.)