Child’s opinion not decisive

by | Dec 4, 2022

District court The Hague, The Netherlands

15 October 2021, ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2021:11036

In this court procedure in The Netherlands the child’s opinion was not decisive, even though the child was 10 years old.

 

Mother asks permission to relocate

The mother again asks for substitute permission to move with the child to another place of residence. She has sold her home and now lives with the minor in her father’s house, in the new residence. She also wants to enrol the minor in a school there.

 

Poor communication

The father indicates that the level of communication between the parties cannot support a move. They communicate only through a third party. A move further strains the relationship. The extra travel time means that the current care arrangement cannot be maintained.

 

Child interview

The court has spoken to the minor, but indicates that the opinion of the minor (10 years old) cannot be given decisive importance. The minor has the consistent wish to live with the mother and move with her. In principle, the opinion of a child of this age would be given weighty significance. However, the court finds it plausible that this expression of the minor’s will was shaped by the conflict between father and mother. During the interview with the court, the minor expressed herself in almost identical negative terms as her mother on various issues. She also mentioned annoyances/examples during this conversation, which, according to the judge, are part of an ordinary family system and do not warrant a change in the care arrangement without further ado.

 

Paralel solo parenting

The court appoints that the parents have been implementing a co-parenting arrangement based on parallel solo parenting for some time. The court finds it important that the minor does not feel that she has to choose between her parents. This works best if parenthood remains equally divided. The court thinks that a care arrangement with equal parenthood as a starting point is best pursued from the main residence with father.

The court decides that the mother will not receive substitute consent for the minor’s relocation. The court decides that the minor will henceforth have her main residence with father.

 

Guardian ad litem

The court appoints a special guardian, under Article 1:250 of the Civil Code, for two reasons.
1) so that the court’s decision can be discussed neutrally with the minor, and
2) because the minor is still trapped between her parents.

The court asks the special guardian to advise the court on what will be a proper care arrangement from now on, given the court’s decision that the minor will not move with mother, but will have her main residence with father.

 

Note: In the Netherlands, “equal parenthood” does not mean that care must necessarily be shared 50/50.