Family law:

Custody and guardianship

When the child is born from a marriage, the married parents will have custody of the child. After divorce, in principal, the custody is still shared by both parents. This is different when a change of custody is necessary in the interest of the child.

This might be considered to be the case if one of the parents can convince the court that there is an unacceptable risk that the child will be trapped or lost between the parents. This parent whil also have to proof that this is not expected to change within the foreseeable future. But other circumstances can also leas to the conclusion that a change of custody is necessary in the interest of the child.

If you share custody with your ex, you might have a dispute about the child, concerning for instance the choice of school, moving (to another country) or holiday destinations. In that case, you can ask the court to make the decision for you. Procedures like this might also lead to a successful request for sole custody.


‘Guardianship’ is the word for ‘custody’ by others than the parents. It can be arrangement by court decision, but also by testament of the parent who has custody. However, if the other parent is still alive, he or she will retain the custody he or she might have lost before. Or regain custody if he or she did not yet have custody, even if it is against the will of the parent who passed away.