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German Law/child custody


My German son and his German girlfriend have a 7 year old daughter who is my Grand Daughter. They have never married, but have lived together for over 10 years. When she was born, my son legally had her last name changed to his last name. If something were to happen to the girlfriend, would my son automatically get custody of the daughter even though he and his girlfriend never married, or does there have to be a legal document saying who is to get custody.

Dear John,

According to German Law the mother has sole custody of the child. But your son and the mother can set up an appointment with the local Youth Department so that they can create a document that gives your son joint custody. This will help your son to avoid a lot of legal costs in case the something happens to the mother. Incase your son need assistance in this matter he can contact me

Carolin Burgess  

German Law

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Carolin Schulz-Burgess


German legal issues on inheritance, divorce, alimony, child custody and support, last wills and testaments, and other problems involving international family and civil law.


I am a certified German laywer with professional experience in both German and American law firms. Since 2001 I have been working independently at my firm, German Legal Services. I have represented hundreds of clients on matters involving US-German legal issues. One of my firm's areas of specialization is in divorce and child support and custody issues between members of the U.S. Armed Forces and German civilians.

World Affairs Council, German Bar Association

North Carolina Bar Association Newsletter

I received my undergraduate and JD degrees both from the University of Wuerzburg, Germany, whose law school is consistently ranked in the top 10 in Germany.

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