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German Law/parental rights - unmarried, mother and child moved to Germany


Hi there,

I believe I am the biological father of a child born in California in April of this year. The child's mother and I had a very short relationship which resulted in an accidental pregnancy. I admit I did not communicate with her much during her pregnancy, because she was very emotional and angry that I ended our dating relationship when she announced she was pregnant and planned to keep the baby (I initially argued for a termination, although I did come to respect her decision.)

She did tell me around month 3 or 4 of her pregnancy that she planned to move back to Germany to have the baby, where she and the child could benefit from generous public assistance, healthcare, etc. I agreed with this plan because I thought it was best for our child's early years to have those benefits and to be with his mother, and I knew her goal was definitely to come back to the US as soon as it was financially feasible- she loves the US and was miserable about "having" to go back to Germany where it made more sense to have our child. We both received independent legal advice that German and Californian family courts have reciprocal agreements to enforce each other's orders, and she swore that soon after the child was born she would go to the German court to order a DNA test, establish my paternity and thus our child's right to US citizenship, and probably also some child support from me. I trusted her to do this as it could only benefit them.

Well - my ex had the baby very prematurely, in California, a week or so before she was due to fly to Germany. She notified me of his birth, and I was able to visit five times total in this last month. The last two times (after our son was released from hospital, where my ex had to be there for me to visit) a mutual friend came with the baby for visits, not my ex, as she did not want to see me - she is still very angry and bitter about how I acted during her pregnancy - but actually meeting my child changed everything for me - I realized I do very much want an active role in his life. I guess this made her even angrier - she is angry I "didn't care" about her during her pregnancy and now I want to see my son as much as possible.

Now I have just found out she has left for Germany without telling me (she had maintained she was staying here until her visa expired in late July, and was even looking into ways to extend her visa.) Mutual friends say she was "spooked" by my request to do the DNA test in the US - she was fearful I would use it to try to keep our son here, when she would have no choice but to leave or become an illegal overstay. I am not on the child's birth certificate or any other documentation. My paternity has not been legally established in any way.

What can I do? She no longer needs me to establish US citizenship for the child, as he was born here. I do not have any idea where in Germany she might be. Our few mutual friends clearly know nothing about where she is - one simply received a text that she was getting on a plane to Germany to "protect" our child - this has shocked them all just as much. I believe she would refuse or try to dodge any order from a court to submit to testing that would establish my paternity, as she clearly does not want me in her life or our child's life and does not "need" me anymore to get our child US citizenship. Do I have ANY rights in this situation, as we were not married, and I am not on the birth certificate or any other documentation regarding this child?

Dear Mike,

Normally you can file a paternity claim at the German court (Amtsgericht) in the city where the mother is located and you could file a claim for visitation rights as well. But if you don't know the address of the mother and the child this will be impossible.

So you would need to find out the address first. You would also be obligated to pay support each month according to your income if you want to to be part of your child's life (minimum 225,00 EUR up to 416,00 EUR).

Carolin Schulz-Burgess
German Attorney at Law/Foreign Legal Consultant  

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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