For fathers, this obligation exists as soon as you acknowledge the child.

If you are not married, then you must acknowledge your child before you can apply for custody. Read more about this under: ‘Establishment and denial of paternity’. You become your child’s legal parent when you acknowledge your child. From that moment on, you are liable for support.

You don’t have to acknowledge your child if you are married. You automatically become a legal parent and are automatically liable for support.

But what if you are unaware that you have fathered a child? In that case, too, there is a child support obligation. It is important that it can be proven that you are the biological father. That can be done fairly simply with a DNA test, for example.


If you pay child support and you start living with your new partner, that will not necessarily the child support, because your new partner is not automatically liable for support of your child. This may change if you marry your new partner. Under current Dutch law, a stepparent is obliged to maintain the child. You are only classed as a stepparent if you are married or have a registered partnership with the child’s biological mother or father.

A bill was pending that could have ended the support obligation of stepparents towards their stepchild. However, this bill expired on 22 May 2022 and it is currently not known whether this will be revisited in the long term.


How long does child support have to be paid? Child support continues until the child is 18 years old, unless they cannot yet provide for themselves at that time. In that case, the contribution to the costs of studying and upkeep will continue until they are a maximum of 21 years old.

Many parents agree that child support will continue until the child is 21 years old because, in most cases, children are not self-sufficient immediately after secondary school.


How is child support actually calculated? 

When calculating child support, the costs of the children are first determined. This is done using the NIBUD table and the age of the children. To determine the costs of the children, the court usually refers to the tables in the report ‘Costs of children for the purpose of determining child support’. The tables are based on the net disposable family income (including any amount received in child budget) during the cohabitation, the age of the children, and the number of children in the family.

Subsequently, the financial capacity of both partners is examined. Your income and a standard formula will be used to determine which share of the costs of the children you can both bear.

When determining the amount of child support, a fictitious amount of expenses and your ability to pay are taken into account. Finally, the costs of the healthcare scheme (healthcare discount) are taken into account.


When the children turn 18, this may be a reason to reduce or perhaps increase the contribution. That depends entirely on your child’s situation. A system has been developed in case law, also referred to as the WSF standards (Study Financing Act). These standards determine how much a student ‘costs’. The cost of a child studying depends, among other things, on:

  • whether the child lives at home or away from home,
  • whether the child is a university student or an MBO student, and
  • whether the child has their own income.

In other words it is always a bespoke approach, based on an assessment of how much each child actually needs.


Our divorce lawyers have the specialised financial and tax knowledge that is indispensable for sound advice in your situation, especially if a company is involved.

We are also happy to assist you if the support payment needs to be changed – initially in consultation with your former partner and, if necessary, also in legal proceedings.

We keep a close eye on any changes in the field of support law. Thanks to our many years of experience, we are very capable of answering your questions in this area and making the right calculations.

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