Keywords: Parenting - step-families - legal status - roles
Multi-parent families increasingly challenge the Dutch and the other legal systems based on a concept of two parents. In order to answer the question whether parental responsibility for more than two parents would meet the needs of multi-parent families, the Dutch Ministry of Justice commissioned research into the legal and de facto situation of step-parent families and planned lesbian families with a known donor. The aim was to gain insight into the ways in which parental roles are divided between the three parents, and into the problems and wishes parents themselves have with respect to their legal position in the family. This article presents the results of this research relating to the step-families: it contrasts the relevant Dutch law with that of England and Wales, and reports on the empirical research exploring the reality of the Dutch situation (a large-scale online panel study (N=302) in-depth interviews with parents, grown-up step-children and professionals).