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German Law/child support for son at university


Dear Sir:

Seven years ago I married a German woman who had one child. The three of us moved to the USA six years ago. Two years ago her son returned to live with his father and to do his IB studies. He is now 19 and will enter university in the fall. We live in the states and my wife does not work. Will she be forced to pay for his university education in Europe? Will I have to pay?

thanks, Bruce

Hello Bruce,

first the easy part: You will never be forced to pay, nor will your income be in any way relevant. You have no legal relationship to your wife's son from a previous relationship and therefore you have no legal obligation.

Your wife is theoretically liable to pay child support, but in practise her liability is limited by her income. As long as she is not working (and has a reasonable reason to not work), she will not have to pay.

A child studying in German is entitle to child support if the government aid for students (BAföG) and the student's own income are not enough to cover his living expenses. Please keep in mind that Germany does not have tuition fees anymore, so that studying there is much cheaper than in many other countries.
If the student lives with the father, then the mother would be responsible to make up the shortfall in her son's finances. If the son moves out from his father, then both parents are liable.

Andreas Moser

German Law

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Andreas Moser


Extensive experience in international family law, especially international child abductions and child custody cases. All other areas of German law as well: constitutional law, criminal law, business and contract law, immigration law, inheritance law, and so on.


Lawyer in Germany from 2002 to 2009. Lawyer for US Army JAG Corps before. Bar-certified specialisation in family law and in administrative law. Articles and lectures about international and domestic family law.


2000 Law Degree from University of Regensburg, Germany 2002 admitted to the bar (until 2009) 2013 MA Philosophy at the Open University, UK

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