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German Law/Paternity, child support, custody


Long story short- my fiancées ex girlfriend filed a paternity and child support action through California courts. We battled paternity for over a year as this child has a presumed father in Germany who has raised her since infancy and still has visitation now. Well they decided they wanted to make my fiancée the father and pay child support.

Although we would love to still fight the paternity part the courts have made the order and set up a temporary child support order. And I'm not sure if we have anything to argue on paternity at this point.

1. We had the mother agree to an amount but the court couldn't get her on the phone to verbally agree in court.

2. Where can we find the paperwork that we would need file for custody and visitation in Germany?

Thank you

Hello Gia,

I assume that a DNA test was done as part of the paternity process, and then really nothing much else can be done. The existence of another person who acts like the father does not rule out biological paternity of your fiancé, unless that person would have adopted the child.

Now to your questions:

1. I am only a lawyer in Germany, so I can't be of any help with the California child support case. Although the mother could choose between German and Californian jurisdiction, once she makes that choice, the case will be decided based on CA state law.
If the mother will be willing to waive the CA court order, then you could of course find an agreement between your fiancé and the mother, but you would need to consult a Californian lawyer to find out what you need to do in order to stop the (possible) enforcement of the CA court order.

2a. custody
Since May 2013, German law has the possibility that the father files for joint custody for a child born out of wedlock: There is no specific paperwork or form that you need to fill out, your fiancé would need to submit a petition to the Family Court in Germany (or more realistically he would need to hire a lawyer to do so). With him living on a different continent and with him having denied paternity, he is maybe not in the best situation to convince the court to award joint custody right now.
I would advise to go for visitation first, establish a genuine emotional bond between father and child and then address custody later when your fiancé's chances will have improved. There is no time limit for filing for custody (except of course once the child will turn 18).

2b. visitation
Visitation rights in Germany do not depend on custody. Any parent has rights to visitation. The scope of visitation is determined by the specific circumstances of the case, i.e. the age of the child, the physical distance, how often have father and child seen each other before. In this case where the father lives on a different continent, it would probably start with regular Skype contacts and then visits in Germany. Only after a few years might a court allow visitation in the US.
Again there is no specific paperwork to file. The best approach would be to approach the mother first to try to find some agreement. Even if it doesn't work, then you can at least show that you tried. If that fails, you can contact the "Jugendamt" (Child & Youth Services) and ask them to mediate between you. If that fails as well, then the only chance is to go to Family Court.

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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