31 March 2016

Taking care of your children after divorce or separation.

If you are separating and have children you’ll need to think about new living arrangements. You both remain legally responsible for your children, including their material needs, upbringing and education, even if they live exclusively with one parent.

Make arrangements

If you were married, then in principle you will need to go to court. However, that does not mean that you cannot come to a large number of agreements between yourselves which can then be adopted by the judge. If you cannot both agree, the judge will make a ruling.

If you were legally cohabitating or had a non-formalized cohabitation arrangement, you do not necessarily have to go to court. It is recommended, however, that you record your arrangements in an agreement. You can then have this approved by a juvenile court judge or justice of the peace if necessary.

You should therefore agree upon practical matters concerning the children as soon as possible. Here you can find a number of topics about which you will have to make a decision.

  • Parental access Since 1995, joint custody has been the rule in cases of divorce. This does not mean that you cannot request another arrangement in certain cases.
  • Where will the children live? Will they alternate between the parents? Or will they stay in the family home and you will both move every week to be with them?
  • Where will they be domiciled? This is important because where they are officially domiciled can have consequences on your tax and potential allowances.
  • Who will receive the family allowance? In the case of joint custody, in principle you will each receive a portion of the family allowance.
  • What about the children's school? If one of you moves, you may need to find a new school. Either way, inform the current school of the situation as soon as possible. The teaching staff can then take the situation into account and if necessary keep an extra eye on things.
Make decisions together

Parents continue to exercise parental authority over the children, even if they are no longer together. This means that you must make all of the most important decisions regarding their health, development, education, etc. together.

Note: it can be the case that the judge assigns custody to just one parent. In that case, that parent is authorised to make decisions alone about specific areas.

Pay together

As a parent, you are obliged to ensure the living requirements of your children are met, even if the children do not live with you or you have little or no contact with them any longer. In that case, who should pay what exactly? Much depends on the way in which you lived together and the way you separated, as well as the potential maintenance arrangements, etc.

Create a list of costs that is as complete as possible, including exceptional costs (such as medical costs, camps) and agree on who will pay what.

Children's current and savings accounts

If you had opened a current and/or savings account together for your children, you can most probably manage that account without the permission of the other. Perhaps you would like this to be adjusted by your bank. There are several possible solutions for this, such as having to provide a second signature for every transaction, closing the account or revoking the (mutual) power of attorney.

We advise you in any case not to deposit any more money into existing current and savings accounts which you opened together. You can consider opening a new current account and/or savings account for your children yourself.

And now ?