Appeal Court Den Bosch

April 30 2020, ECLI:NL:GHSHE:2020:1452

Almost 14-year-old: “no photos for father”

In this case, the Dutch court took into account the opinion of the 14-year-old when establishing the obligation to provide information, since providing photos of her would be an excessive infringement of her privacy.

The father had asked for access arrangements and an information arrangement. The court had asked the Child Protection Board to write an advisory report on possible contact and on an information scheme. The Council recommended that the mother provide information about the minor to the father twice a year, including a recent photo of the minor. The request for access rights had been withdrawn by the father.

Advisory Council for Child Protection

The court had rejected the father’s request to receive a photo of the minor at least twice a year. The mother had to inform the father in writing twice a year about important matters of the minor and how she is doing (at school, leisure time, medical matters). At the hearing at the Court, the Council stated that the Council’s opinion was drawn up, without the Council being aware that it was the minor’s express wish not to provide photographs of her to the father. The Council stressed that it would be most ideal for the father to inform the minor by letter that he understands her position and hopes that in the future she may agree to have photos provided to him.

Art. 1: 377b paragraph 1 BW

Art. 1: 377b paragraph 1 of the Dutch Civil Code stipulates that the parent in charge of custody is obliged to inform the non-custodial parent of important matters regarding the person and the property of the child. At the request of a parent, the judge can establish regulations in this regard. Pursuant to the second paragraph, if the interests of the child so require, the judge may determine, at the request of the parent charged with custody, as well as ex officio, that the first paragraph does not apply.

Opinion mother and child

The mother emphasizes that she and the minor are still troubled by the period of domestic violence from which they eventually fled. They still live at a secret address. The mother is afraid that the father will use the photos to trace the daughter.

The minor informs the court that she does not want any contact with the father. She does not want photos to be sent to the father. She doesn’t want him to know what she looks like now, because she’s afraid he might start looking for her.

Court judgement

The court believes that given the age of the minor, she is almost 14 years old, her opinion should be taken seriously when assessing father’s request. Therefore, the Court of Appeal is of the opinion that providing photos of the minor to the father constitutes an excessive violation of her privacy and that the interest of the minor therefore precludes the request made by the father.

What does this mean for other parents?

Nobody wants children to get involved in the legal discussions between parents. However, if a child has a well-founded opinion, it may be important to ensure that that opinion reaches the judge. This can be done during the investigation by the Child Protection Board, through a special curator, a child discussion or a letter from the minor to court.