Acknowledgement and custody

Increasingly more children are born to unmarried parents. In such cases, the mother is the only one who has parental authority over the child after the birth.

Parents can choose to share custody of the child. They will then both have the same legal status to look after the child's best interests and be able to make important joint decisions about the child. But how do parents arrange joint custody and is this the same as acknowledgement? 

You can acknowledge your child if you are not the legal father of your child, i.e. if you are not married to the child's mother. Immediately after the birth of a child, but also later, with the consent of the mother and possibly the child, a father can go to the Civil Affairs Office to recognise the child, giving the child his surname.

The acknowledgement creates a family law relationship between the acknowledger and the child. If you acknowledge a child, you become the child's legal parent. You then have a number of rights and obligations. But after acknowledgement, the father has no authority over the child. The mother therefore remains entrusted with full parental authority even after acknowledgement. She does not need permission from the father to arrange important matters for the child, such as doctor visits, getting a passport or travelling abroad with the child.