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Independent site about Dutch father movement

This page is no longer up to date. For information in English regarding Dutch fathers : at site Joep Zander
  1. Article in English on Negotiations labour and fathers Holland 2002
  2. information on procedure Zander versus the state of the Netherlands
  3. Fathers' Day 2000; occupation Child-Protection Service
  4. report 2000 on Dutch situation
  5. 1999 report on Dutch situation
  6. prosecutions
  7. actions against Child Protection Service
  8. older reports on the dutch situation.
  9. Part of a Dutch Child-Protection-report.
  10. article on Dutch justice-system by Joep Zander; translation
  11. Interview on fathermovement in Holland
  12. one more dutch case in english
  13. mp3-file: Gardner in Holland
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Fathers' Day 2000; occupation Child-Protection Service

The Fathers' Day action in Holland was very successful. 25 fathers occupied the Child-Protection Service Building in Zutphen (Eastern Netherlands) for a full day. We had a lot of media attention. Before the action there was a big full-colour, full-page article in the regional press, which then appeared after the action had finished in most other Dutch regional papers as well. The action itself was shown on almost every TV news slot, even the main NOS News. There were articles, some with photos in most of the main national papers. We were able to have some successful discussions in the occupied building with the Director in Chief of the Child Protection Service, in which we agreed on both sides the need to reduce legal opportunities for refusing contact with non-resident parents. We also agreed that there should be more development of civil contracts laying out duties of care and responsability between citizens, mothers and fathers. During the day of the occupation, we were also able to have a discussion with a Director of the National Judges' Training Centre, in which we discussed the incorporation of fathers' accounts into the routine training of judges. We planned ongoing discussions with both institutions.

for photos and information in Dutch
additional important photos

Current Family Law Developments in Holland

Report May 2000

1. Father Organisations

National Congress on the interest of the Child

A main event since our previous report of March 1999 was the three-day Congress on Children and the Right of Contact, organised by the Platform of Parent Organisations (SCJF) and the department of Justice.The venue was the town of Breda: opening day was June 24 and final day December 16, 1999. Participants were some 300 fathers. Professionals of the Child Protection Office and members of judiciary.

Opening speaker on the first day was Richard A. Gardner of Columbia University, New York who, delivered an extensive lecture on the Parental Alienation Syndrome that can be so devastating for father-child contact after divorce. lt was Gardners first public appearance in Holland. A longer article on PAS can be found elsewhere on this site; a book on PAS, edited by Joep Zander and with articles by Wim Theunissen and Rob van Altena, appeared in december 1999.

During the afternoon debate professor Gardner was especially pressed to answer

Peter Tromp, on behalf of the Platform SCJF, stressed that courts and Child Protection Office should stop their present extensive way of psychological investigation into every recently divorced father in order to approve him for seeing his children. The term "the best interest of the child is undefinable and therefore meaningless. According to estimates of the father organisations up to 50% Of the divorce/separation children in Holland loose contact with the non-custodial parent: this involves 12000children per year as well as 7.500 fathers, 500 mothers and 14.000 grand-parents.

Mia Meyers reported on a father-child contact pilot project in Maastricht. In 1998 a contact centre started mediating for cases where the father-child contact had been lost. In about 50% of these problem cases both parents agreed to cooperate with the project, in again roughly 50% of these 50% (25% of the initial cases) the contact was successfully re-established.

Otto Vos MP remarked that "we must look for those means of maintaining contact that the judiciary is willing to implement". On the last congress day the minister of justice, who was on the speakers list, was at short notice prevented of coming; a speech on his behalf was delivered by mrs. Valensloot who conceded that the term "the best interest of the child", although the base for the administration of family law, is nowhere legally defined. In four successive panels telling remarks could be heard. "The best interest of is the child depending on the situation", "the interest of the child in that its interests do not become the issue of legal proceedings", "it is in the interest of the child that it does not dismiss his parents", "children's rights are now derived from the rights of educators".

Peter Prinsen remarked there should not be a right of visit for one parent but both parents ought to have at all times unimpeded access to the children: "detrimental to children is not enforced contact but enforced withholding of contact". "ubi justitia deficiunt, ibi bellum: in divoree we can observe an interaction of war and lack of justice", "child protectors and judges oppose the interest of the child to the so-called self interest of the fathers who press for contact - that is why 1 hate the term 'best interest of the child'.

Joep Zander cited a pre-printed form of the court in the Hague which makes it impossible for a child to choose for both parents,. "The issue is not the interest of the Child but existential situations i.e. the protection of relationships; the child cannot define the interests of the child therefore the interest of the child are defined by others who in doing so secure their own interests"

Mrs. Truus Barendse (vice-president of the parents-platform closed the congress saying that she had heard many adults hide behind children. What authorities could is to protect rights.

Other developments:

2. Platform

The Platform SCJF (Collaborating Organisations of Customers in Juvenile and Family Law) receives now x government subsidy on a permanent base on the grounds of its representing 'government customers in this domain customers according to the current free-market terminology. Many fathers however positively hate being labelled customers.

The Platform also sponsored the International Conference on the Deelaration of Langeac (text elsewhere on this site), held in Utrecht on November 26, 1999 with representatives of Holland, Belgium, Germany, England and Ireland. Mary T. Cleary (Ireland) spoke about her AMEN helpline for abused men: in two years time she received 5000 telephone calls for help. Liam O'Gogain (Parental Equality, Ireland) told that equal parenting is since 1997 a possibility in Irish law. Gerhard Hanekamp (independent, Germany) said that the new German law of July 1998 on parental equality is in practice sabotaged by judges and child protectors. Ghislain Duchateau (BGMK, Belgium) said that in Belgium there is little consciousness for parental equality. Since 1995 there is shared custody after divorce/ separation but many courts give single custody to one parent (guess which one) without particular reason. Julian Fitzgerald (independent England) told that when he wanted to stand candidate by election and went from door to door to collect the required signatures, 60% of those visited signed, among them many divorced mothers although he plainly explained to be in favour of parental equality.

The other main father organisation, the Crazy Dads, held its annual national meeting in Bodegraven on November 28 with 175 participants. President Leo Bevaert stepped down after six years and was succeeded by Arthur Ross. The Crazy Dads, who started ten years ago as a group of fierce actions, have now totally changed their ways and concentrate on behind the scene influences.

3 Government initiatives

Although contact between father and child after divorce or separation is a legal right in Holland since 1990, the secretary for justice acknowledges that this right is very often sabotaged. In search for better ways of securing the law the secretary ordered an investigation of methods of enforcement as applied in surrounding countries. The report of this investigation (a booklet by mrs Brigitte Chin-A-Fat) was published in September 1999. lt also holds a summary in -English. The report recommends the development of alternative methods like mediation anti contact houses (so far unknown in Holland) and the possibility of criminal punishment, after the example of Belgium and France although it also rather stresses that the criminal punishment (imprisonment) in these two countries is in practice seldom applied and therefore ineffective (in Brussels a mother was recently condemned to 8 months imprisonment but only after having sabotaged 43 visits by the poor father)

The Dutch government decided that sperm donors will keep their right of anonymity for another two years, after that the issue will be looked at again. Once anonymity is resented by many donor children who press for the right to know who their father is.

4. Judiciary and jurisprudence

Although shared custody after divorce/separation is law in Holland since January 1998, the High Court decided in a case that when serious and lasting disturbance of communication exist between the parents, shared custody is not possible. The feminist Clara Wichmann Institute which accompanied this case through all the courts, hailed the verdict as a victory. And for good reason: in principle every mother has but to stop communicating and hang on to itin order to get the custody all for herself,

5. Child Protection Office

This very important body has acquired a greater independence within theof justice and is now only responsible to a secretary-general. Henceforth it has its own policy department. Policy is that difficult maintenance of visit ( = sabotage by the mother) is no reason for abolishing the visits. The Child Protection Office promised to look into the number of 40-50% fathers who loose their children. Mr. Zwetsloot, head of the policy department, stated in Utrecht on march 29, 2000 that the Child Protection Office is no longer concerned with divorce/separation but with mediation. "Since 1998 both parents keep custody, this implies contact". (???)

Rob van Altena

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Joep has been acquitted after all, which should have been obvious all along. There was no chance to hear the witnesses (policemen) who Joep would like to have been heard, so that it could be clearly shown that they were wrong - not him. There was some attention in the media about this trial, and last week Joep was on national TV to speak about the general problems that fathers experience. As yet, there is still no prosecution of the Child Protection Service.

Dutch Child Protection Office Immune from Prosecution? decision? acquit?
The prosecutor did request acquittal. But that doesn't automatically mean that the Appeal Court will follow this course. I expect it will. But nothing is sure until 11th December, when there should be an announcement of the decision made. There could be a decision in the interim about the refusal of the prosecutor to call up the witnesses I asked him to. His refusal to do so was based on the idea that he was going to ask for an acquittal anyway. This is illegal.

joep plakt pamfletten op het arrondissemensgerechtgebouw van Zwolle the case
On Friday 27 November l998 at 10am an Appeal will be heard in the Arnhem Court House in the case of Mad Dad hunger striker and non-violent fathers' activist Joep Zander against a sentence of a fine or five days detention by the Zwolle Police Magistrate.
In March l997 Zander insisted on laying a complaint against the Dutch Child Protection Office (Eastern Branch). The evidence relates to events which occurred in the main Zwolle Police Station: the Assistant Public Prosecutor on duty let it be known that it was unlawful (?) to lodge a complaint against the Child Protection Office. When Zander persisted, he was thrown off the premises with unnecessary and brutal violence. As he made to enter again (to file the complaint) he was arrested, pulled back into the station with unnecessary brute force and locked up for some hours.
Judge E. Steendijk of the Zwolle Police Court considered Zander's action to be a disturbance of the peace and convicted him on these grounds. A strange verdict. Zander did not disturb anything. He only wanted to be in the police station for as long as it took to lay a complaint - it is perfectly lawful to lay complaints against public institutions in Dutch police stations. When elements of exactly the same complaint were presented one year later, it was accepted without qualm for investigation by the Public Prosecutor. Why then did the police refuse to accept the complaint initially, and how can the judiciary condemn someone for wanting to exercise a legal right?
As a spokesman for Mad Dads (Eastern Branch), Joep Zander has for years attacked discrimination against fathers by the Dutch Child Protection Office, which as an institution forms part of the judiciary. Is the police court conviction due to these actions, or is it targeted at this activist in particular?
Rob van Altena

More information: Joep Zander Dutch Minister of Justice; fax +31-70-3707900

Subject: "Crazy Dads" demonstrate in the Netherlands

Editie: Nederlands Nieuws -----------------------------------
This edition is published on: Thursday, September 3, 1998
Thursday night the action group "Crazy Dads" demonstrated in front of the Council for Child Protection in Assen . The dads, demanding improved provision for access to their children, blocked the front of the building. They further tried to prevent case workers from entering the premises. According to the Dads the Council for Child Protection is a "paper organization, without a heart and without real interest in children, parents and grandparents".
"Crazy Dads" has demanded a dialogue with Secretary of State for Justice Cohen.

note from editor; The term "Crazy Dads" doesn't seem a correct translation of the Dutch term "Dwaze Vaders" It is hard to translate but it's more like "Foolish Dads" I think. By the way, the action wasn't organised by the foundation "Dwaze Vaders" but by an autonomous group supported by this Site and the union for client organisations in family law and youth care in the Netherlands.
English editor's note: Mad Dads would be the best thing to say in British English, and doesn't sound too bad in American English either. But in American English it means "angry", whreas in English English it just means nuts.....
For fotograph's and Dutch reports on the mentioned action akties assen

Recent Developements in Dutch familylaw 2

report april 1998

1.On the first januari 1998 There were some new legal developments.

A. All "social" parents can now get joint custody. Which is a good proposal in situations where is only one parent exists. It could be a good idea for homosexual-couples for instance. The majority of cases are about fathers who are banned from being with their children, in whose place a step parent can get now full custody rights.

The same law states that two-parent- custody is seen as the normal situation. It seems to be that this is however a situation with an interchangeable father. A parent still doesn't need any argument to get rid of the other parent (who is more often than not the biological father). The initial reaction of the Justice Commission of the Senate was to seem very critical of the proposals. Despite this and despite the fact that some Senators mentioned how repressive of fathers it was, the propsed law was agreed. The Minister (Schmitz) even used lies to this end. One of the main lies is about the number of broken father-child relations. As in most West-European countries this figure hovers around 50% of relationships after a breakup. The government states that these cases are only in a minority (5-10%). The proposal was accepted on 28 October 1997. The Women's Movement sees it as a big gain for fathers. Perhaps it is a moral victory but in practice it will be very bad. More fights, more benefits for the lawyers and judges. Bad for children because they get no guarantee against aggressive state behaviour. B. The Dutch parliament is still discussing mediation as one solution for divorce problems. But they still won't see it as a divorced children problem. Children don't matter where so much money is earned. The parents are consequently accused of fighting each other. But in reality it is the state that's fighting the parents.

C. The acknowledgement by fathers of their children [parental responsibility UK] if they don't have a married relationship with the mother is made "possible" if the judge decides that the interests of the mother are not in danger. You wont believe it when you read this. But this is quite literally Dutch family law. Until now acknowledgement by the father was simply not possible if the mother did not agree. It still stays that way, but fathers are now being provoked into starting legal processes which they can't win.

D. The range of grounds for altering children's family names changed. It will take 5 years (instead of the former 3 years) of one-parent custody before such a change can be requested. Although the law requires an investigation to take place in the interests of the child, demands for changing family names by mothers are always agreed to when due process is undergone. This regulation change has been the only positive development in the whole January 1998 family law package in Holland. .

2. On this page you can find an example of dutch childprotectionbehavior

3. The Dutch Child Protection Service was preparing a revolutionary change in thinking about visitation rights. A report from the national bureau of the service advised that in future court orders on contact [visitation rights US?] should not be denied. Only temporary denial should stay possible. Alas the minister put these proposals in the refrigerator. The main creator of all these beautiful ideas is searching for another job now. So, the long tradition of brainwashing children's parents, fathers especially, can go on. This is accompanied by pure undiluted repression - eg the blackmailing of fathers by Child Service employees, lies by judges and so on. The National Ombudsman is no longer willing to do any research on complaints about the Child Protection Service. Fathers who want to prepare a Penal Notification against the "child-protectors" are put in jail. The Press are afraid of the Child Protection Service Directors and seem to think that fathers are a type of dangerous zoological specimen - cetainly not human. The Dutch State is no better than the Belgian State. Our justice system is dangerous for both children and their parents. On this page you can find an example of Dutch Child Protection behaviour 3. Half of the law cases in Holland are family law cases. All these cases are still secret. Judgments are not made public. This is a dangerous assault on the basic principles of Trias-Politica. Some courts have tried to make their judgments more public but they have been overruled by an extra-legal organisation formed by Court Presidents. There is no argument: they just do it that way.

Developments in Holland concerning family law (old - October 1997)

New results for opening justice in the Netherlands. Court-decisions on family-law-cases now public in Court of Arnhem. After an exchange of letters and a two-hour discussion with the Coordinating Vice-President of Public Affairs of the court of Arnhem the Praesidium of the court decided a week later that we were, after all, right in our interpretation of Article 6.1 ECRM and national law concerning public accessibility of the Court's decisions in family cases. This is the first court for which this ruling has been made in Holland. This means that decisions in family cases from this court are from now on publicly accessible. In the interests of arriving at a positive decision we did agree on anonymity for the litigants although we do not think that this is necessarily a compromise. It is just that we don't need that kind of information. We are going to look through a number of previous rulings to see for instance if there is still much discrimination against fathers in the judgments of the Arnhem Court. The Court of Arnhem was on the national news some years ago because they used printed forms which didn't even allow for the possibility of the father gaining custody.
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What did happen with the open-justice-campaign in UK????

Dutch situation
Generally, in Holland court hearings are held in public. The exception is family-law cases. According to international law judgments should be publicly available. Nevertheless we have encountered some problems with this recently. The court of Zutphen was recently asked to show us a number of family-case judgments. They refused. Initially, they gave no logical arguments for this. Individual complaints on the behalf of the court secretary are sent to the National Ombudsman. After this our organisation asked the same on behalf of our members (ie as a group). The court secretary has now been pondering for over two months over how to find a legal argument for a response which we anticipate to be negative. Now we are thinking of launching a case against the Court of Zutphen. If you would like more information about all this all, please let us know.
If you like more information about this all; please let us know. Our e-mail adres is: Joep Zander

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Dutch Childprotectionreporting

I send you a translation of a part of a report on visiting rights concerning my daugter Rosa.
The report was written by a social worker from the Child Protecing Service Zwolle (East Netherlands); mr.R.A.v.d. Werff. The part you receive is the final part. This report was regarded as to be "carefull and objective" by the court (primary and secondary judge).

I asked the director of the Child Protection Service East, mr Pasman, to give his comment on the translation. I did'nt hear anything from him, concerning this request.

The translation was made by an professional translator and regarded afterwards by a native English speaker.
However it seems to me to be correct to send you a copy of the Dutch original as well.

You are free to use parts of this copy and translation in the way you like. But if you do so I would like to hear about it. I anonimised the name of the mother.

If you should want to get more information about this case or about other cases in which I'm involved please contact me.

Sincerely yours

Joep Zander
Dwaze vaders foundation (foolish fathers)

translation + original

Translation Report Child Protection Service

I guess father must be considered as a person who acts according to his own idea's and thinking. I do not think he's ready yet to fit in with the ideas of other people.
I got the impression he ignores the fact that a child has a need in its upbringing for attention to be paid to its own needs.
Well, he gives the impression of knowing exactly what Rosa needs.
In a way he does have ideas that would appeal to a child , like singing songs and cycling on a carrier tricycle with his daughter through town.
This however, seems to be more an answer to his own need to to be considered a progressive father rather then being something that would fit into a sensible education for Rosa.
Thus I think that a good arrangement of meetingtimes for Rosa and her father will only be possible when two pre-conditions have been met.
In the first place Rosa must be ready for it . In the second place father must be willing and be able to deal with her in a different way.
That means he must be willing to meet the pedagogical lines mother sets.
I think father will not be able to do this on his own. He would have to ask assistance himself by the regional mental health institute.
The parental access-arrangement between father and Rosa cannot be continued at the moment.At what term an arrangement for parental access will be possible is not foreseeable.
It is clear to me that it will not be a short time matter.
Mother will have to prove her responsibility as the most important person in Rosa's life.
With professional help she will have to work towards improvement.
When Rosa is ready to see her father again mother will have to take take the initiative in that direction.

Dear Mr. Zander:

Thank you for sending me the translation of part of the report concerning your visitation with your daughter. It is clear to me that are being victim-ized by the bias and the idiosyncratic value system of the social worker. The SW is clearly allied with the mother and is supporting the mother's hostility toward you. There is absolutely no basis in any scientific research data that can support the conclusion. In fact, the research evidence would suggest quite the contrary recommendation. Your daughter is being harmed by the actions of the SW and what she is doing constitutes emo-tional abuse of your child.

I am enclosing a copy of an article that appeared in American Heritage same years apo. It shows how the personal biases and the enmity of the first SWs was working then and that is the same thing you are hitting now. Give people power over others and they will use it to abuse and harm others, not help.

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