New Child Custody Law in Germany (May 2013)

(This is an update to my FAQ about child custody law in Germany.)

For a long time, child custody in Germany was automatically awarded to the mother of the child if the parents were not married at the time of birth. For a long time, a great many people found this to be unfair, both to the fathers and to the children who were often deprived of one of their parents. For a long time, people petitioned the Department of Justice and Parliament to amend the law. I myself represented a fathers’ rights group in a meeting with then Secretary of Justice Ms. Zypries in 2005. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled the law to be unconstitutional.

Now, in 2013, the child custody law was finally amended and a new child custody law came into effect on 19 May 2013:

So far, unmarried parents could obtain joint custody if they both signed a joint custody declaration. This gave the mother a veto, which many mothers unfortunately abused (to obtain financial benefits, to force the father to do things he otherwise wouldn’t want to do, to move away from the father to disrupt or prevent contact).

Now, the Family Court can rule that both parents have joint custody. (Joint custody does not necessarily mean that the child spends equal time with either parent, it only gives the parents the same legal rights and forces them to come to an agreement about all major decisions in the child’s life.)

This requires a petition from one parent (typically the father). The court has to award joint custody to both parents unless joint custody would contravene the welfare of the child. It is hard to imagine cases where the welfare of the child would be endangered by having two guardians instead of one. The law assumes that joint custody is in the interest of the child (§ 1626a II BGB).

The petition will be served on the other parent (typically the mother) and the court gives them a deadline to respond. For the mother, this deadline has to extend at least to 6 weeks after the birth of the child (§ 155a II FamFG). If the responding parent does not provide any reasons against joint custody, the Family Court will render its decision in writing and without a hearing (§ 155a III 1 FamFG).

This is far from the changes that I would have liked to have seen (total equality between married and unmarried parents and between mothers and fathers), but it is a considerable improvement for unmarried fathers. I am curious to see how it will play out in contested proceedings.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Family Law, German Law, Germany, Law and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

138 Responses to New Child Custody Law in Germany (May 2013)

  1. Pingback: 10 FAQ about child custody law in Germany | The Happy Hermit

  2. C Maxon says:

    Although laws are in place (and have been for some time) that protect both father and child’s basic human rights to access and know one another in a meaningful way, the courts choose only to enforce the mother’s right to the father’s wallet (under the guise of child welfare). Never mind if the father desperately wants access to his child; never mind if the mother deliberately chose to have and rear a child independently of a father’s presence; no matter if the mother is perfectly able to financially support that child independently; the courts only demand his money and offers him no remedy against his alienation.
    It is unconscionable that the courts are allowed to pick and choose which laws to enforce. Why do not lawyers effectively (or perhaps even try) to argue against this injustice? The laws are there; the grounds for remedy exist; it seems, it is the will to seek such justice that remains elusive.
    Yes, a father can win a judgement granting access, but it is not binding on the mother. If she chooses not to comply, that’s just too bad. “Our hands are tied”, say the governments. The father can go back to court (at his expense of course) and get a second order for access, which again the mother can simply ignore without consequence.
    The German government goes all out to collect sometimes ridiculous sums of money from absent fathers (who’s absence is NOT consensual) for children they do not even know by no fault of their own, while allowing mother’s to deny the basic right’s of both father and child without any consequence whatsoever.
    This is true even when the father fulfills his financial duty happily and willingly. It is a disgusting abuse and pure discrimination in law. Where are the hot shot lawyers challenging the courts to enforce the rights of all parties within the family?? Child support enforcement has become far reaching with both monetary and criminal consequences for non compliant fathers. When will the courts begin to impose such penalties on those mother’s that are effectively abusing their own children with their pettiness and alienation? Such mother’s are unfit, and the courts are financially rewarding them for being so. The true cost placed on society as a whole.
    I can’t apologize for my rant inspired by reading this bogus change in law. It is infuriating. This new law will not change anything. It will only offer CYA for German courts to continue with business as usual. And likely give a new false hope for father’s and the opportunity for more lawyers to earn even more money for their ineffective “services”. The judgements will not be worth the paper they are written on. I sincerely hope my statements are proven wrong. I won’t hold my breath.

    • When contact and access orders are circumvented by the custodial parents (usually the mothers), the courts can enforce penalties and sometimes do so.
      Also, you can request the appointment of an “Umgangspfleger” which will henceforth substitute the custodial parent’s consent.
      There are ways. I am not saying it isn’t tough, but most cases that I see suffer from inefficient lawyering (or from fathers trying to represent themselves).

      I am happy to put up a list of FAQ about visitation, access and enforcement in Germany, but I am waiting for someone to send me a book from my wishlist to convince me to push it to the top of my to-do list.

    • Indigo says:

      Please think about pushing this up your to do list my friend. There are many good fathers that could do with a solid place of reference regarding seeing thair children. I for one would be very greatful for your time if you chose to do a FAQ regarding this subject.

      Warm regards and respect.

    • If at least one of those concerned fathers could send me at least one of the books from my wishlist it would help a lot to influence the order of my to-do list.

    • Anonymous says:

      What are the grounds that a father can get child custody from mother? Negligence or instance case of abuse in the child are those main reason to get custody from a mother?

    • Phillip says:

      I am trying to established regular visitation and joint custody. My question is whats does joint custody mean for me the father? What rights will I have that I don’t now?

    • Joint custody means that both parents need to agree on all major decisions regarding their child (school, medical, extraordinary travel, religious, financial investments, and so on).

    • german false hope says:

      C. Maxon what you right has been happening to me the past 2 1/2 years. Even though I have all the reports and decisions in my favor. They still favor the mother. She makes problems and everyone looks the other way. Looks like they will make me pay a ridiculous amount of money in the next few weeks and the only access I can get to my children is in a supervised environment. I am told I see my kids. They say the new law only works if the mother agrees. Why do you need a new law if the mother agrees?

    • Gabe Bourke says:

      Me too. It seems to be a zero sum game. True joint custody is not possible as one parent will always have the main responsibility for the “prime times” e.g. school days, Christmas eves, sleepovers etc.

    • I have seen quite a number of cases where it works quite well, particularly if both parents still live in the same city.

  3. Indigo says:

    Thank you for writing about the new law. Does a father have to apply to court before 6 weeks or can he do this any time? If the mother brings up reasons why she won’t consent to this, does it then go to court so evidence from both party’s can be shown to the court?

    • The father can do this anytime. The application can also be filed years after the birth of the child. There is no limitation.
      And you are absolutely right. If the mother files objections, the court can then schedule a hearing in which both parties will be able to file their legal and factual arguments.

    • Indigo says:

      Thank you sir.

      I will see if I can put some penny’s together. Will look at your wish list. Might take a little while due to me being in debt due to unsuccesful child abduction case. But will certainly consider your words on my other comment.

      Kind regards.

  4. Akthemoor says:

    I have a question sir, my situation is a very unique one, and I was wondering if you could give me a positive answer on the issue. I am dating a German national who had a child with an ex military American. They were never married, and although his name is on the birth certificate, she brandishes documents that shows she has sole say over the child. Here is where it get’s interesting… The father is a confirmed sociopath, and is married to another German national who supports him. He can’t hold a job, is currently unemployed and pays child support only when he feels like. He is verbally abusive to the mother in front of the child (8 months). I want to have her move to the states because she and the child have their passports, but I fear the courts will award this sociopath joint custody one he puts on a crying display in court. This is the one time that I wish the law was what it was before. However I have to work with what I can deal with. So I’m asking you three things: Can she leave the country to live with me where I can try to provide a better life if she has sole say and if she has her passport.. Also if it goes to court is her best bet to show the courts that he is insane and unfit to have joint custody, and third if I marry her and have a child with her, what power would that give us over him although he still has rights?

    • If the mother has sole custody over the child, she is free to leave Germany with the child and move to you. By doing so, Germany loses jurisdiction (unless there is already litigation pending) and everything will fall under the law of your country henceforth.

    • Akthemoor says:

      I can’t thank you enough Mr. Moser, I truly do appreciate the info. So even with his name on the birth certificate, she can leave? One more thing sir, why then does her lawyer tell her that she has to take it to court, and possibly lose custody over the child? I fear he does not know what he is talking about. So this means that she does not need to go to court? Do you know where I can find the writings for this in German to show her so she can bring to her lawyer?

    • The birth certificate is never relevant for custody.
      I have no idea why her lawyer would say that.
      You said that she already has paperwork stating that she has sole custody. That’s enough. I also wouldn’t see the point of going to court because what more than sole custody can she get?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hello Andreas,

      Thank for this page and sharing may info here, i would like to know if you can give me some advice and if you can as well represent all over germany or you have where you only work? if you can pass me your email address then i contact you for family issue

  5. Akthemoor says:

    I just have to ask you again to be 100% sure because the child office tried to force her to have this man around her and the child and I just don’t want that they charge her with child abduction when he goes running to the polizei which I know he will do

  6. Akthemoor says:

    Awesome Mr. Moser you’re a life saver. So like you said, Germany loses jurisdiction. Her only concern is that once she is in the states, that he will then have the right to keep her from going back to Germany. Could I call a family office here to find out if he will keep her from leaving or is that something you would be able to shed light on?

    • For the father to try to prevent the mother from leaving Germany, he would need to file for joint custody with the Family Court. Once he does so, your girlfriend will be notified. As long as she doesn’t hear anything from the Family Court, she is safe to assume that nothing has been filed.
      Whether future returns to Germany by your girlfriend will be dangerous depends on how long she will stay there. If she will always only be there for a short time for holiday, she won’t establish jurisdiction. If she/you will move to Germany again in the future, then German jurisdiction will of course be re-established.

  7. Akthemoor says:

    Your knowledge is astounding. Thanks a million!

  8. Akthemoor says:

    By the way mr. Moser, my girlfriend would like to contact you in German if that’s ok for advice to see exactly what steps she should take because her lawyers are not helping us and we feel almost hopeless. I thank you sir

    • Oh yes, that’s absolutely OK. See my contact page for my e-mail, Skype and other means of contact.

    • Akthemoor says:

      Just let me know what book from your wishlist you would like to read next (in case someone else already bought it) with an address of your choice and I can send it to you for assisting us mr. Moser. That is a small price to pay for you to guide us in the right direction

    • Thanks a lot for that!
      I am just about to move from Lithuania to Italy, so I’ll have to wait a few days until I will be able to post my new address in Sicily.

  9. akthemoor says:

    No problem, and so you know my girlfriend messaged you at the email you provided me. Hope to hear your response soon!

    • Thanks, I received her e-mail and I will reply soon.
      Here’s my address in Italy: Andreas Moser, Via Cucinotti 56, (ex VI traversa), 98047 Rometta Marea (ME), Italy. Thank you very much for the surprise already!

  10. JB1313 says:

    Are you taking cases in Germany again, or still just offering advice? Thanks.

    • I am offering advice and consultation, both via e-mail or over the phone, but I am currently not a member of the bar in Germany as I live in Italy now. So I can’t take on any court cases in Germany.

    • Kulsoom says:

      Hello Andreas,
      My name is Kulsoom. I am from Pakistan.My husband has an german nationality and I have two daughters their ages are nearly 5 and the other is 3.5, My husband has not been working from last 5 years, He has been taking money from “Arbeit amt.” he doesn’t want to do any job because he used to take money from “Arbeit amt.” ,He force me to make new children and get more money from “Arbeit amt.” . I dont want to live like this way and take money from “Arbeit amt.” so that’s I have been having so many crises in my mairriage life from more than 2 years. I am very upset and I want to take Divorce from him. and give better life to my children.What Should I do.?Can I take my children custody? Please help me .

    • In a divorce, usually both parents would retain shared custody. Even after the marriage has been terminated, you and your husband still remain mother and father to your children and will have to work together on all issues regarding your children.

  11. Kandi says:

    I automatically gained sole custody to my kids since their dad and i were never married. Now he applied for parental rights but he was so abusive to the extend of photoshoping my pictures and posting on the web that the Judge ruled out his application but i applied for regular umgangsrecht so that he was able to see the kids regularly and this was approved. Problem is, the guy can not stop dictating to me what i should or should not do, for example, he spoils for trouble evrywhere, in school, kita and whenever he knows i go to.
    The court had ordered mediations but the mediators gave up on us as the Man wouldnt cooperate.

    Question is, what will happen now? Is he allowed to bully me given that i have sole custody?

  12. Christopher says:

    Hello Mr. Moser,

    Finally, somebody that is looking out for the fathers. I really appreciate it. Ok, here is my situation. I have an 8 year old girl who resides in Mannheim, Germany. I live in NY. Cutting to the chase about the abuse of power the mother bestows upon me and the threats of me not seeing my daughter from time to time (predicated on her own mood swings), man at the time, etc., I would like to know what I can do about visitation rights. I currently pay an obscene amount of child support (1,100USD) a month in which I am currently fighting. So I feel the acknowledgment of such should provide sometime of legality of visitation no? Even though I visit her every Christmas, I am only allowed (not court ordered) to be with my child for around 9 hours a day. During these times, I hope the mother doesn’t change her mind and cancel visitation with my daughter altogether. Se is also engaged to someone who she has told me herself is extremely jealous, a racist (my child is mixed) and very controlling. So naturally, I am fearful of something happening there.

    I wish to obtain the following. Please let me know if this is even possible and where to begin.

    I want to have something in place to where we can workout visitation rights with me. Ex. If I have her for a Christmas (either in Germany, uninterrupted during my visit or in the USA) then she stays for summer in with her mother and vice versa over the course of my daughter’s young life.

    I want it where if anything happens to the mother (unable to care for or death), that my daughter resides with me and that I get sole custody (not her grandmother or step father).

    I want half say in all major decisions such as medical procedures and other facets of her life.

    I want designated times in which I can speak with her on the phone, skype and any other conduit of our choice.

    Do I have a shot?

    Thank you for your time…warmly,


    • The visitation that you are asking for is absolutely sensible. Probably, a German court would prefer the visitation to take place in Germany, but if it works out well on several occasions, I see no reason why your daughter shouldn’t be allowed to visit you in the US.

      A sensible court order on visitation would of course also include telephone/skype times as long as you live in different countries.

      In order to have a say in all major decisions, you would need to file for joint custody, as I have outlined in the article above.

      If the mother will become incapable of exercising custody, you should become the custodial parent unless the welfare of the child requires otherwise: § 1680 II, III BGB. Because your daughter is already 8, a lot will depend on what opinion she will voice and on your relationship with her as well as any possible emotional relationship she has with her stepfather. The more contact you have with her, the better your chances are.

  13. motta says:

    First congrats for your great work. You help many people , especially children. My husband had a daughter who was born in Brazil , today she have 7 years old and lives in Berlin with her ​​mother, who is a German and was not married with my husband. When the baby girl turned one year he took her and the daughter back to Germany because it was the desire of the mother. Since then my husband visit her daughter about 3-4 times a year. Always he sends the money (according to dusseldorf table) and we lived in berlin during 9 months just to stay close to the girl. It turns out that the girl’s mother request child support and limits the father to see her and does not allow skype. When we travel from Brazil to Germany she usually limits visits and never allowed her daughter to come to Brazil (obviously accompanied by her) . However the mother already took the girl to canada without father’s permission. My questions are: Why is she asking for money if she ever receives via paypal? What is the correct frequency of visits? (the mother can not allow the father to communicate via skype for example?) What do you suggest to solve this situation? Thank you!

    • Because these questions relate to child support and contact/visitation, I would really like to keep them separate from custody law. Otherwise, too many things get mixed up which don’t have anything (or not much) to do with each other.
      I will put up similar FAQ on child support and contact/visitation as soon as somebody will mail me one or two of the books from my wishlist.

  14. Heidi Rudolph Imani says:

    Just wanted to know the process by which I can make the father tomy one year old child to support me . He lives in Germany while I’m in kenya I was made to understand that he is married in germany with a family.he works for a firm called neoplan that much I know.and I’ve all the prove that I’ve have been with him kindly your advice will be appreciated. Thanks

    • I’ll be happy to set up a similar list of FAQ on getting child support as soon as someone mails me one of the books from my wishlist to do so. But in your case, it sounds like you might need to establish paternity before. For another book, I’ll be happy to address that issue as well.

    • Carl says:

      How long does it take for the German courts to decide on a verdict for joint custody? What are he odds of a, let’s say American military member to receive joint custody even though he is soon to leave Germany? What sense does it make for the member to have joint custody if he isn’t in the country. The child would be from an unmarried couple .

    • It would make sense if you are currently already involved in the child’s life. Because then, having shared custody would enable you to move back to Germany in the future after you ETS. You could then get a residence permit based on having shared custody (if the child has German citizenship).

      The duration of such a proceeding depends very much on the kind of opposition put up by the mother.

  15. Carl says:

    So what would the average time be for the jury to decide? 2 months? 3 months? Let’s say the mother opposes and the court hears her plea, how long then? How long then until he jury/judge decide?

    • There is no jury. It’s only a judge.

      I have no idea on the average time and I also don’t see what the information would help, because how do you know if your case is an average case pending with an average court before an average judge with an average workload? Obviously, the sooner you start, the sooner it will be finished. But on the other hand, you don’t want to file anything before you have a solid case.

      I am sorry, but you’re going to court, so it depends very much on the specific case. Average ain’t help nobody.

  16. Rahaf says:

    Hello Sir
    I want to know what a two year child born in Germany and has the German nationality
    Could give ( rights ) to his foreign mother . Considering two factors ;
    The father has the german nationality
    The parents are married , but there’s a big possibility of facing a divorce
    So in case of a divorce , does the german child give any rights to his foreign mother ( foreign = does not have the german nationality)
    What can the mother do in this case to protect her rights?

    • Do you mean custody rights or the mother’s right to stay in Germany? What citizenship does she have?

    • Nathalie says:

      She is libanese
      And I would like to know a bout both
      Custody rights and her rights to stay in Germany , if possible
      Thank you

    • You find more about child custody in my FAQ on child custody. Generally, shared custody would be maintained in the case of a divorce, unless there is a compelling reason to withdraw custody from one of the parents. The breakup of the marriage is no such reason because father and mother will remain father and mother even if they are no longer husband and wife.

      As long as the mother maintains at least shared custody and spends some time with her child, she will be able to base a residence permit in Germany on that (§ 28 I AufenthG).

    • Nathalie says:

      Ok , but how long will she be responsible for the care of the child
      I mean the custody will complete u until what age of the child ?
      And the other question is :
      What help does the german government offer for the non working foreign mother of a German child ?
      The third question :
      When can the child give the foreign mother the citizenship?

    • Child custody applies until the child turns 18.

      The financial question depends on the age of the child and the financial abilities of both parents (even after the separation).

      German citizenship cannot be derived from a child. But of course the mother can apply for naturalization in Germany once she meets all the requirements. For more, see my FAQ on German citizenship law.

  17. Fred George says:

    Thanks for all that posted here – I go back to court next Thursday for better visitation rights for my 8 year daughter.. I have been living in Germany{American NYC} since her birth and only have her Tuesday afternoons and all day Saturday.. for the past 6 years ..The system is impossible and the Jungandamnt is useless and against fathers from the get go..
    By chance we have a new Judge so that will prove interesting..

    We live in Saarbrucken which is very much like Tennessee. I have been told to try and get a different city like Berlin where the Judges would favor the Father a bit more – but way to far away to pull this off..

    To all fathers just the best and the German system is ” not the best interest of the child” thru and thru

    Fred George

    • Jurisdiction is determined by where the child lives, so that was not very sound advice which you got.

      Good luck for your court date next week!

  18. Basharat ali says:

    I meet German woman than we have baby
    . Baby was 6 month old bron outside German
    . But we get German passport for baby in German ambassy
    . But he didnot give my sir name to baby . But I was don’t
    Care of that. Now she take baby to German now there
    She is Chang and I can’t go to German Becouse I don’t have visa. What can I do to meet my baby

  19. Basharat ali says:

    I’m from pakistan. I’m pakistani citizen.child was born in pakistan
    There it was did not accpet my Islamic marriege . Becouse he did not give my sir name to my child.there in Islamic country I can’t sign as boyfriend.

  20. John P Smith says:

    Hi Andreas, I am the father of two girls, both illegitimate and German. I am British and my former partner is German and lives in Hamburg. I travel every other weekend from London to Hamburg for access. I will shortly begin the process for Joint Custody with my Hamburg solicitors. My ex will object but has no grounds, so I am reasonably confident of getting this. My question is this: What is the minimum access I can reasonably expect? Both girls are in pre-school and school (aged 4 and 6…they started school in the UK, so the local school in Hamburg has reluctantly accepted them) My ex says I am not entitled to half term holidays and since there are many of these in Germany –more so than in England– it seems the girls are missing out on a lot. Fortnightly access is fine but again, I am only allowed 7 days in the Summer holidays whereas I am hoping the actual entitlement is somewhat greater? Any help gratefully received and many thanks for your site which is essential reading!

    • There are really no strict guidelines on the amount of access. It depends on the individual case. The more access you have already had and have now, the more you will get in the future.

      When arguing about access, keep in mind that no court order is final and you can always ask for it to be amended and/or increased in the future.

    • John P Smith says:

      Many thanks for your helpful advice Andreas

  21. bob says:

    Hallo Andreas, i have a question, today i went to the first hearing in the court concerning visitation to my daughter, but supprisingly the judge told me that she can not let me see my daughter who is 7 years old and she confirm to the judge weeks before that she witness me kicking my wife, in my side i knew that my wife influence my daughter to speak those statements, so my question is the court can denied visitation just because the 7 years old child stand as witness?. Anyway the judge want to send my child the psycologist to conferm her statement and if child statement is the same can I have the right to visit my child or I will never see her again ? .

  22. Candies Barbie says:

    My son is in a bad situation. He married a German citizen and June last year they h as d a child. They visited Germany and then in October the wife went back to visit and would return. Once there she decided she wanted to stay another 3 year’s. We visited in Dec/Jan and she made it clear she was not returning to the states. My son was in college and quite in April to return to be with his son due to her filing for divorce, threatening to put their son in her maiden name and place him under a 150 meter restraining order from his son. She never filed the marriage paperwork and black mailed my son into signing papers he is the father which is true. Unbeknownst to my son she has been receiving government assistant plus the money he had been sending. He is terrified of losing his son as she and her family have threatened. What if any are his options. He does have all kinds of crazy messages from her as do I and another family member.

  23. Jay says:

    I need some help finding my child and his mother. Last I heard they where living in Stuttgart, GE. Anyone that thinks they can help me email me back at Bless

    • Of course I can help with that. I charge 400 EUR for a initial consultation and depending on the information you have, it shouldn’t be too hard to find them.

  24. cverreo says:

    Hi Andreas,
    I had a child in May with my girlfriend in Germany. I’m a U.S. Citizen and she is German and we both live in Berlin together. My girlfriend is refusing to sign a Joint custody agreement. She explained that since I travel to the U.S. a few times a year it would be “almost impossible” for her to do anything with my child (ex. take her to the doctor) without me being present. Is that true? She also mentioned that with sole custody, she gets more Elternzeit, better places for Kindergarten and generally more perks as a “single mom”. I have been in the U.S. for two weeks now and plan to return to Germany next week. Yesterday she informed me she booked a holiday to Southern Turkey and leaves tomorrow morning with my child. I told her I was 100% against the idea, given the political situation there and the travel advisories from the U.S. State Department. She will leave tomorrow against my wishes. I know that since she has sole custody, I probably have no legal recourse, however, this incident has convinced me I need to fight for at least joint custody of my daughter and hopefully more. I will leave my girlfriend after I return to Germany next week. My question is this: What is needed to gain full custody of my child? I believe my soon-to-be ex-girlfriend doesn’t have the best interests of my daughter at heart (lots of other specifics I won’t cite here – this incident is just the tip of the iceberg). I know the chances are pretty slim for me to get sole custody, however, what would I need to prove/establish in order to get full custody of my daughter? How do I find a GOOD German lawyer (like you!) to represent me for the joint custody petition? Thank you!

  25. carissa von Mayer says:

    Good day,

    Please help me.
    I am South African.My child born in 2002 has a German father.We met in SA and never married.

    He moved back too Germany in 2004.With his new South African wife ,her 3 children and new baby.
    Before he left, he attempted a number of underhand ways too take my son too Germany.
    Including stealing his passport and taking out a legal action too obtain joint custody.On the grounds that I was an unfit mother.

    In his attempts too do this he attempted too get a number of people too write defamatory letters as evidence that I was an unfit mother.
    Too cut a long story short he did not get joint custody but guardianship and a visitation agreement.
    The sad part is that when he realized he could not take the baby with him too Germany.
    He lost heart felt defeated and from then until now.
    His contact has consisted of 2 phone calls a year.
    He has in his mind ,that I am this monster and has all sorts of reasons why this limited contact and lack of relationship with his son is my fault.

    This man has been paying R 2300 since 2003.Thats about 150 euro a month.As my child is going too high school next year we really need this amount too be increased significantly
    He has given me a very low offer of R 3000.But all dependent on my child visiting Germany.
    I have taken out a maintenance increase order,in South Africa in January.But no word so far.

    I need an organisation in Germany that can help me and also ensure that my child does not get abducted should he visit Germany.
    This situation is very distressing for my son.As he knows that if he does go too Germany. There will be a lot of pressure on him one way or another too join a family that he does not know.

    I do not have money for German laywers..What can I do going forward.My x is an upstanding member of various political and Global forums.

  26. Jermis Jordan Greene says:

    Good day

    My questions are
    1. How can one get the custody right over his child?

    2. Does the judentamt have the right to say no if though the mother wants the father of the child to have a custody right too?

    3. What may one do if the judentamt don’t want to issue a custody right to the father?

    Much much thanks

    • 1. I think that’s exactly what the above article explains.

      2. and 3. The Jugendamt (it has nothing to do with “Juden”) has no deciding or executive powers. Only a court can make decisions on child custody.
      If the mother agrees that the father should have shared custody, they will both simply sign a shared custody document at the Jugendamt which cannot be denied. (If they do deny it, contact me and we’ll take it from there.)

  27. Germann Law says:

    Hi Andreas Moser, i have enjoyed reading ur page, i have some quetions i would like to know about. i am having an unborn child with a german citizen, we are not marriage and we are not living together in the same house. but at the moment she is pregnant for 8months. but she has left me for another man Deu to my finaciall situation and i am an Immigrant here in germany, she is saying i will never be alow to see the child if the child is born and i can have the legal costedy of the child also. can that be possible or is there a way i could do. thank. and sorry for my English

    • Your immigration status and your financial situation have NO effect on your rights as a father. You have the same paternal rights as any other father, and the child has a right to have you in his/her life as well.

  28. Alyssa brainerd says:

    I have a question. My friend is in the army and was stationed in germany for 4 years he has an 8 month old daughter with a German woman. He signed a paper at the German embassy in Atlanta saying he was the father and sent her his paychecks for child support. Now for whatever reason she’s mad at him and changed her number and is trying to cut off all contact with him. He says he can’t just pop up and visit because he will go to jail. She said it is german law for him to pay for her house and bills and everything including the child because she can’t work until the baby is 3. He’s being told he has to pay $900 in child support and has no contact because of the mother. Is there anything he can do?
    What are his options?

    • 1) It’s not true that he would go to jail. He is the father and even if he doesn’t have custody, he has paternal rights, including the right to contact with his child (§ 1684 I BGB).
      2) If the mother doesn’t cooperate, he can contact Child & Youth Services (“Jugendamt”) who will/might try to mediate between the parents. Alternatively, he can of course file for a court order for contact/visitation.
      3) The amount of child support depends on his income and his deductions. If he sends me all the financial information, I can do a calculation and provide some tricks on how to minimize payments. I do charge 400 EUR for such a consultation, but it would also cover the aspect of contact/visitation.

    • Alyssa brainerd says:

      Are you located in the states?
      You could Google his paycheck as well its military. What is your contact info?
      But what if he wanted to bring the baby here is that even an option since he is the father? And ok so she is supposed to maintain some type of communication with him about the baby. Thank you for your help. I appreciate it.

    • The paycheck is not enough because I need to know about the personal expenses, liabilities, debts, payments and so on. That’s why I need to talk to the client in person in such cases.

      Sooner or later, visitation will of course include overseas trips for the child to stay with the father in the US, but it usually takes a while of father-child bonding before a court would allow that.

      If you click on “Contact” above, you will find all my contact details. I am in South America for the foreseeable future.

    • Alyssa brainerd says:

      Also she is saying that she isn’t allowed to work until the baby is 3 and he is supposed to pay basically her house her life and the child as well?

    • With so many follow-up questions, I think it’s time for a donation through the Paypal button on the top right of this page. Thank you very much in advance!

  29. Sonia says:

    I’ve have been married for over 15 years and have a daughter aged 9. I have been living in Germany for the past 12 years. Unfortunately our marriage is coming to and end and my husband wishes to file for a divorce however he want me to change my surname back to my maiden name and also remove his surname from our daughter too once a divorce has taken place. Is its possible to do so and if so what would I need to do?

    • 1) Your husband cannot force you to do any of this if you or your daughter don’t want that.
      2) If at all, it can only be done once the divorce is final, so I recommend contacting me then (and making a contribution to my Paypal or sending me a book from my wishlist).

    • Sonia says:

      Thank you for your quick response. I will be in touch as and when I need your help and guidance

  30. kalpana says:

    Sir,my husband stays in Germany who left me in India when i was pregnant.he said he will take me to Germany but he didn’t.after some months he stopped calling me and talking with me.he stopped the entire communication.i don’t know his whereabouts for a so longer time.he didn’t support me physically and financially.where i have to file a complaint.please let me finding very difficult to run my life.i have his present address,phone number everything.please help me.he married an other girl without getting divorce from me.please help me.

    • This involves a lot of issues (paternity, child support, the other marriage, possibly your own divorce) that it would probably be better to set up a full consultation over Skype. I charge 400 EUR for that.

  31. ulli keisrwetter says:

    I am unemployed in Germany…I am moving to Australia to marry in 6 weeks a citizen there on a pension ..she will be my sponsor for 2 yrs and I only have €5.000 to contribute to my upkeep….how do I stand with child support laws ..knowing I still have another year of my child’s education to pay for ..please help ulli.

    • Hallo Ulli,

      auf der Seite über Sorgerecht möchte ich jetzt nicht im Detail auf den Kindesunterhalt eingehen, über den ich mal einen gesonderten Artikel schreiben werde.

      Die Antwort auf Deine Frage hängt davon ab, ob ein Urteil oder eine Jugendamtsurkunde oder ein anderer vollstreckbarer Titel über Kindesunterhalt vorliegt, wie alt Dein Kind ist, wie alt Du bist, ob Du in Deutschland Arbeit finden könntest, wieviel Du dann verdienen würdest u.s.w. Dazu müssten wir uns eigentlich im Detail unterhalten, aber dafür berechne ich leider 400 EUR.

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  34. Grannyl says:

    You say it would be hard to imagine a case where the child’s welfare would be harmed by having 2 guardians instead of one. As the mother of a pregnant woman whose partner is emotionally abusive, I am sure that the baby will be better off if she has sole custody. Telling her that he will jump off a bridge if she doesn’t have an abortion, locking himself in the bathroom with a large kitchen knife and saying that he is going to kill himself, telling her to pack her bags and leave, begging her to stay, promising he has ended his relationship with his new woman, then asking her to go around to said woman’s flat to condone their relationship otherwise he will leave and she and the baby will never see him again, begging her not to return to the UK and leave him – all of these things and more are impacting on her health and therefore on the unborn baby’s health. She is financially independent, but dependent on him for emotional support in Germany and they continue to share a flat. It is hard to imagine that he will change after the birth and she would like to have the option to return to the UK and her family. If they have joint custody, he can prevent her from leaving with the child and continue to abuse her. In these circumstances, how exactly would joint custody be better for the child than the mother having sole custody? So, I can all too well imagine a case where my future granddaughter’s welfare will be harmed by having 2 guardians rather than 1.

    • Joint custody does not mean that the two parents need to live together.
      Why doesn’t your daughter just move out? It seems like this is a relationship problem, not a child custody problem.

    • Grannyl says:

      I agree entirely, but the issue is not whether or not they live together, but that if he has joint custody, he can (and has signalled his intention to) prevent her leaving Germany with their daughter. My point is that his volatile nature and possible unresolved mental health problems mean that his ability to make decisions in the best interests of the child are questionable. In this particular case, I’m taking issue with your assertion that it is hard to imagine a situation where a child’s welfare would be harmed by having 2 guardians rather than one.

    • Of course a child’s welfare can be harmed by one parent unilaterally taking the child to another country. A child has a right to its two parents.

  35. Joe says:

    Hi Andreas, Am a father to a child in Germany born to a German mother. Am British and not married to my son’s mother. After the child was born in 2011, he was given the mother’s maiden name. Later on I went to Germany to accept custody of my son, hired an interpreter, paid a fee to have his surname changed to mine and started paying child maintenance.
    I’ve been buying him presents, visiting him when I can, etc. Recently, my child’s mother called me and said she was getting married so would like to change my son’s name to the fiance’s name. I disagreed and we had a big argument about it. I later contacted a family friend who intervened and settled the issue.
    On my recent visit, both my child’s mum and the husband made it hard for me to see him which caused another big argument. Since I returned to the UK where I like, she refused to answer her phone so I could speak to him and has even changed her number.
    Please what should I do? Am scared that she’ll carry out her threat of changing his name. Even though I know their address in Germany am suspecting that they’ll like to move out so that i wont be able to trace them since she’s changed her number as well.

    • The most urgent thing would be to get regular contact with your child established. If the mother is unresponsive, you can contact the Jugendamt for a mediation or file a lawsuit with the Family Court in Germany.

    • Joe says:

      Thanks, Andrea. Am so grateful for your advice. Will do just that. Thanks once again

  36. Anonymous says:

    Hi Andreas, I need urgent assistance, I am from India, married to a German, living in Germany since 2014 and have a 2.5 year old child. I have finished my integration course and have B1 certificate in German. I am an Engineer and have many years of experience in IT sales. Since that I went on parental leave after my relocation to Germany in 2014 and with the initial language barriers, I have still not been able to make it into any full time job employment. A large part of my unemployment was mainly because that my wife found a job right when my son was 4 months and I had to babysit and extend all the flexibility, running pillar to post from daily Mother care centers to Kindergarten. Very recently (Oct 2016) my wife convinced me to move towards my in-laws, a small village in the South German state Baden-württemberg. She lured me into the idea that we would get additional support from my in-laws and I could concentrate on my job hunt. I am facing many hardships coping with my in-laws especially my mother in-law and not able to cope up. Now that my wife is well covered by all sides her parents and brother. I am singled out and denied many basic rights as a parent and as a father. Additionally I am taking a bad blow on my self esteem putting up with her folks. All this is pushing me from no other option other than leaving to my home country. Which is exactly something I feel what my in-laws and wife had pre-planned, that I let go of the child and they get full rights. I need legal help and counselling regarding my paternal rights. Secondly if I have to dissolve my wedding here in Germany and have to go on my own, what are the institutions that I can approach for social aid ? I want to stay close to my child but surely distance myself from my Wife’s family. Also my right to residence ? I am presently on a 3 year temp residence permit valid till April 2017. Please advise.

    • As long as you will retain shared custody of your child, your residence permit can be based on this instead of the marriage (§ 28 I AufenthG). In that way, you are not dependent on your wife, but can move out whenever you want.
      If your wife is working, you could ask her for alimony during the time of the separation and possibly beyond the divorce. If she is working full-time and you are not, you may also have a chance to receive primary custody because you will have more time to take care of your child.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the reply Andreas. I need your counselling ASAP on how I can take the next steps. Please let me know your fee, I will arrange for the same.

    • I charge 200 EUR for a consultation by e-mail, 400 EUR for a telephonic consultation, and both will cover all aspects: child custody, visitation/contact, separation/divorce, visa, financial aspects and so on.

  37. frankriese says:

    Thank you so much for this article! I have read it with great interest and regret not having come across it sooner.

    I think any kind of sexism, especially such described into law, is utterly anachronistic and has no place in today’s society. Germany being behind on this is shameful, and I am saying this having been born in Germany myself. We need to start recognizing any and all forms of gender discrimination written into our laws and practiced in its enforcement as the deeply sexist and outdated attitude that it is.

  38. Matthew Young says:

    I feel like I have a unique situation. My ex-wife and I divorced 10 October 2006, our Daughter was 3 at the time. I have not been able to talk my Daughter since I left Germany in 2007. I was only told to be at the courthouse for the hearing and was not informed that I needed legal counsel as this was only the divorce hearing. I arrived at the courthouse and was told I needed a lawyer to sit with me. I had no idea what was being said and was reassured by the “lawyer” that full custody in Germany was only to make decisions concerning medical emergencies pertaining to my Daughter. That was the last contact I had with my Daughter. The whole time my ex and I were separated I was paying her money, roughly $700 a month. I moved back to the states and was still sending money, my ex wife took me to court without my knowledge and came after me for child support. She even went after me for a years worth of back support that I had already paid. I have not missed a payment since this has all went down. Lets fast forward to now when I get a message via social media from my Daughter saying she wants to start talking to me. Now my question is “Do I have the right to file for partial custody after all these years or has my ex killed any chance of me seeing my Daughter?

  39. susana says:

    Hi Andreas, I need urgent assistance am from Kenya a student here in Berlin and currently pregnant for a Nigerian man that holds a German passport because he is currently married to another Nigerian lady. my question is if i give birth to my baby what kind of status will He/she hold ? Will my status change as well from my student Visa and in case in future will i be able to remarry and my future husband adopt the baby? please advice

    • I don’t see why that is urgent.
      I will answer your question after receiving a donation of at least 30 € to my PayPal account. Thank you!

  40. iancremona says:


    I am from EU. My girlfriend who i met in my country(while she was living here) will have our baby in Hamburg in October. She recently left Malta to become a German resident to have our baby in Germany. She will move back to Malta with the child after.

    If I sign for custody:

    – Can I give my surname to the child at birth?
    – if we break up, she goes to live in Germany. What rights will I have?

    If I don’t:

    – Will I have any association with the child, at all?
    – can she force me to have an association?


  41. iancremona says:

    Ive sent you a book :) I’ll leave it as a surprise

  42. Willbe says:

    Hi Andreas, ok thanks. Is it possible to modify my username or delete my comments for privacy issues? I can’t do it from my end.


  43. Willbe says:


  44. Ilyas says:

    Oh…you are heavenly sent. Thanks so much.
    I read your recommendations and updates….surely it has helped me.

    I will be very glad if you could also help me a little here. I am a refugee living in Germany without any residence permit but a duldung.
    I was with my german girlfriend for almost a year…but we separated after she gave birth. We talk on daily basis …and are very good friends.

    She refused to give me half custody and also refused to share her place with me. This hasn’t allowed the Ausländerbehörde- to issue me with a residence permit.

    I read your submissions and contacted a family lawyer asap since I realized that I had same rights as the mother according to the new Child custody law.

    A case have been filed at the family court and I await the outcome. I already visit him every month , buy pampers and other baby stuff for him. I have my vaterschaftannerkerung and birth certificate of my kid.. Though I am not allowed yet to take up a full-time job…..i make some payments as Unterhalt to the jugendamt monthly from the little money I get from sozialamt integration €1.50 job an hour .

    Without half custody …..i will have to leave my son and return back home to my son is almost 5 months. We live in different states.

    Please what are my chances of getting the half custody through the court ? How long will it take ? And will the Ausländerbehörde- hold on for me while I go through the court system or will push me out before the court decides ?

    Thanks for your help

  45. Okafor peter says:

    Hi, thanks for your good work.
    I have a question .. I have a one week child, although we have not signed any documents yet. She has only my name as the father of the child in her birth satificate, but for three days I have not seen my child. Now my question is. doe my Babymama has a right to change my names from the child’s father. And if she does, do I have a right to disfigure DNA or sue her in court?

  46. Galyna says:

    Hello! I have a question regarding settlement of child alimony. We are currently living in Hamburg, not married, son is under 2 years old and my partner wants me to sign joint custody. The main issue is that me and my son are going to Ukraine for time being, though we agreed with my partner that I am free to work abroad in future(I am unemployed at the moment). So, where should we inquire about the sum of child maintenance? And do we need to sign any agreement?

    • The child support depends on the income. If you know your partner’s income and deductions, I can calculate the child support for you.
      But you have to keep in mind that once you are in Ukraine, Ukrainian law will apply because the German child support might be way too high for the living expenses in Ukraine.
      You don’t need to sign an agreement necessarily because if your partner fails to pay, you can easily sue. But of course it would be a nice framework to have things settled in writing, and it will make any future dispute easier to resolve.

  47. Muse says:

    Hello, I have a question regarding possible ways to see (or at least talk with) my 3 Children whose mother (soon to be my X-wife) snapped them and disappeared over 2 months ago. I contacted the authorities (Police, Landratsamt/Jugendamt in the area where we live in BW, but they refused to let me see or talk to them. After 12 years of relatively OK marriage, my wife decided she does not want to live with me anymore, and that’s fine with me. On August 19, 2017 my wife and I had a dispute over stupid little things which escalated into the usual shouting and pushing, but absolutely no physical harm whatsoever. I thought it would be a good idea to let things kool down so I left the house and stayed in a hotel room nearby; that did the exact opposite as I expected. Apparently, on Aug. 23 (4 days after our fight) she went to the police station in the small village where we live and raised a mysterious complain. The police would not tell me what the accusation(s) against me are, or where she went with the kids from there. I went to the Jugendsamt in our Landkreis, and they were even less helpful and only explained that the kids are somewhere being taken care of and that the wife want to file a divorce. As I said, I have not seen/heard from the kids for over 2 months now and needless to say that my whole life is in ruins.

    Now my question is: what are my RIGHTS during this transitional period? Can I not force the Jugendsamt to arrange a meeting to see my kids? I hired two Lawyers in the meantime, but they have not done anything so far. My kids are quiet small (ages 8, 9 and 11 years old) and i m dying to see them or at least talk with them. One of the lawyers which I fired immediately after he mentions that my case is still in its infancy and that it would take a much longer time before I get to see the kids. Please note my three kids and I are US-Citizens but my wife is a US-Green Card holder, I am here on a so-called EU-BlaueKarte (unbefristet) as an IT-Engineer. I have not been to the US-Konsulate/Embassy yet, but I don’t know if they can intervene of help in such matters.

    Your advice, hints, any info would be greatly appreciated in such tough times.

  48. Achuo Mua Rene says:

    Im married tona German woman who has a 4 year old son with another man. They both have equal custody of the child. The man works but doesn’t care to take care of the child. I do practically everything for the child including the paying of kindergarten, feeding clothing etc please I need help.what should I do. Which German office do I report this case to? Should I stop spending my money on the child while the real father works and does nothing for his child? Please I need a response

    • What you should do depends on your goals.
      But you definitely have no legal or financial responsibility. It sounds as if the father is taking advantage of you paying for everything, so you might want to stop your support to exercise some pressure on the father.

  49. Rangi says:

    Hello Andreas, I’m a New Zealand guy who married a german girl 2011 and I’ve been living in Germany since 2013 – 2017. We have two girls aged 2 and 4yrs, but my wife has decided she wants a divorice. She is enrolled as a university student and I was the assigned the stay at home parent. After finding out that my wife was seeing someone else for 3 months before she announced she wanted a divoice I had a breakdown and returned back to New Zealand. I’m about to go back to Germany and try and establist a reconnection with my daughters but the brife contact I have had with my wife has been very negitive while I have been in NZ 5months now and I’ve had no contact with my girls. What are my rights regarding joint custody with my two daughters. I land in Germany next week, can you
    please recommend where I can start, regarding assistance. Thank you in advance

    • Because you are married, you have joint custody already and will usually maintain to do so even after a divorce. It would require one of you to file for sole custody to change that, and even then the court could uphold joint custody.
      You still have the same rights as before and the same rights as the mother. The most urgent matter is of course to re-establish the contact with your daughters.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Andreas for your reply and time.
    Kia kaha(respect)

  51. Rangi says:

    Hello Andreas, can you please offer advice on where I can go to ask for legal aid, I arrive back in Hamburg, my ex wife is tring to stop me from seeing my two girls.


    • You can go to the Amtsgericht and ask for “Beratungshilfe”. You need to show your financial situation, then you will receive a paper that you can take to an attorney of your choice.

  52. Rangi says:

    Hello Andreas, it’s Rangi , I’ve just returned to Germany to reconnect with my 2yr and 4yr daughters but when I emailed my ex wife to arrange a suitable time to come around either at the home or at a local park, her reply email that she would.appriciate it if I didn’t just show up at the door and if I wish to visit my girls I will first have to arrange a meeting with the local Jugendamt. She already has a new parnter living in the family home.I know that showing up at of the blue is not ideal but I have not seen my kids for 4 months now, I have had no notification from anyone official. My questions are I have to ring the Jugendamt before I see my daughters.
    2.Can I email my ex and suggest a time for example,
    I will be around today at 4pm to see my girls and show up at 4pm.
    Please advise your opinion.

    Thanks in advance


    • Hello Rangi,
      I’ll be happy to help, but I would also appreciate a donation to keep this blog going. (See Paypal button on the right.) Thank you very much already!

  53. K e k o Adams says:

    I have a friend that lives in Germany who has a child buy a German girl he is from Gambia Africa West Africa she will not let him see his son he really doesn’t know what to do I’m trying to make him understand what he has to do to get visitation rights please advise

  54. George Agyepong says:

    Dear sir.
    I live in UK and my son lives in Germany with my son but due to unsociable behaviour of the mum my son has been taken away from her and now he’s in a shelter. now I’m planning to live in Germany and look after my son
    2.i have no rights regarding my son so the family office is trying to pettition the court so I get my rights. How long will it take for the court to sit?

    • Impossible to predict how long any court decision would take, as it depends on their caseload and the cooperation of all parties.

  55. Uchenna says:

    How long does it require(in the case of unmarried parents) for the father to petition for joint custody? And in the case of a woman who is previously married, divorced and still retain her ex-husband’s name. If a man have a child with such a person, does she have the right to transfer that name to the child? In this case, what are the rights of the father? Can he raise objection if the mother wishes to do so? And what is the position of the law?

    • That’s a lot of questions. I am looking forward to a large donation to this blog, before I delve into them.

      Please also let me know the citizenship of everyone involved as well as the age of the child. For the petition for joint custody, it would be important to know if the parents live together or if the father has regular access to the child.

  56. Ceyda Ceren Yüksel says:

    My wife and I got divorced, then she filed a case to have sole custody of my three cildren. I am willing to leave custody to her but I wonder if I can put my optional conditions to parental right agreement or declaration we’d sign. Due to my previous researches, the side that have sole custody can take away the children abroad without asking permission of the other parent. Can I offer a condition telling that she is not allowed take away the children abroad without my consent.

    There’s one more thing I want to ask, if I can demand to check her mental health by an expert before leaving the custody of my children.

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