‘Patchwork families’ are families made up of parents and children, whereby one – or both – of the parents has brought in a child from a former relationship. Sometimes these parents also have joint children.
Almost 10% of all families are patchwork families. And this is only expected to increase. The relations within such a family are often complex. The children have to get used to the new family and the step-parent and – vice versa – the step-parent has to build a relationship with the step-children.
Some families are together full-time, others part-time, half-time or during the weekends – sometimes in combination with shared parenting. To some, these new families feel like an enrichment, but there are also plenty of cases in which the newcomers are seen as interlopers or in which conflicts of loyalty arise. Whatever the case may be, it is always good to look into the legal consequences of the new situation and to put things on paper.
Having a Say over the Children and Expenses
The premise in Dutch law is that the legal parents share parental authority (the right and duty to raise and take care of the children) over their joint children. Whether or not these parents are in a relationship is of no importance. A step-parent has no parental authority. If the step-parent and the parent are married or have entered into a registered partnership and the step-child is part of the family, then the step-parent is obligated to contribute to the costs of sustenance and in the raising of the child. Howmuch, depends on the circumstances. Pursuant to the European Convention on Human Rights, when the relationship between the step-parent and the parent comes to an end, the step-parent can request visitation rights. Any obligation to contribute to the sustenance, however, ends.
article by Yolanda Bokhorst