Proof of Birth

Registering a birth remains a beautiful and almost solemn moment. As a new grandmother I heard about this for the second time in four months. Something struck me about that. The official did not check whether the declaration was correct, but took the fathers at their word. In neither of these instances was the father asked for proof of birth, like a statement from mother, obstetrician or doctor. That’s strange. There are many rules concerning the Civil Registry.

For example, it is often almost impossible to to implement changes. For example: the change of first names and surnames: so easy to do in a country like the United Kingdom, but hard to do here. The registers are used in the execution of government tasks. So it is important that it is correct. But when registering the birth, there is clearly no watertight system for that. Ten years ago I first experienced this, what far-reaching consequences. It happened to a client of mine, recently widowed. The notary who assisted him with the settlement of the estate of his deceased wife reported – to his astonishment – that according to the records of the Civil Registry, his wife had had another child during their marriage, apart from the three children they had raised.

A child that no one knew about. So that child also was an heir apparent. It was – fortunately – not true. What had happened? Well, his wife lived in Groningen for her work. A man with whom she had a simmering quarrel for years, had then registered the birth of a child. Apparently to bother her. A deceptive action, which may still be possible, as my recent experience teaches.

1 June 2022