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German Law/Child Support Germany


I am American, my husband German. We have 13 yoa son. I have been trying to get child support since 2012. He has not paid anything since 2009. We separated in 2006. My son and I came to Florida after he told us to leave at Christmas as he no longer wanted a family. He wanted his mistress. we did try again in 2008 for 10 months, but is alcoholism scared us so bad we came back to Florida in 2009.  We live in Florida and he lives in Germany.
Florida tried to get child support, but was informed that he has no job, is on German welfare and has nothing to take. I asked about his private retirement fund of 45-50,000 Euros.  Could a lien be placed on that fund so that my son can get the money before my husband can start collecting his retirement?  In Florida we are divorced, but in Germany we are not. I did not have funds for a great attorney and the one I used did a cheap divorce where they said that his whereabouts was not known.  So far the German government has done nothing and one official coached him not to sign documents, so that he pays nothing. He keeps saying he is not giving ME anything.  He is not giving me...he would be supporting his son, but he does not see it that way.

Thank you so kindly for your time and attention to this question. I wish you a wonderful evening.

ANSWER: First of all, we have to keep in mind that you have (at least) two ways of going about this:
- You can get a child support order in Florida (which has jurisdiction because you and your son live there) and then try to get the FL court order enforced in Germany;
- or you can get a German court order (Germany has jurisdiction because the father lives there).

Because I am a German lawyer, I will focus on the second option, but that does not mean that you should not consider the first option, although it is usually just an extra hassle and involves more lawyers (and their fees) to sue in one country and then seek enforcement in another.

In Germany, if somebody does not earn more than 1000 EUR net per month, then he does not need to pay child support. This level of income is considered the basic allowance necessary to lead a decent live and it cannot be taken away.

You might however get a court order for child support in Germany is if you could argue that the father refuses to work and that with his talents, skills and at his age, he could earn more if he tried. Then the court could order him to pay child support based on a hypothetical salary.
Then you could enforce this court order against the private retirement fund.
You could also argue at the trial stage (not the enforcement stage) that the father must use up the retirement fund to pay child support if there is any way for him to access it. Whether that's possible depends on the specific fund and the underlying contract.

Unfortunately this case is so complicated, that you cannot rely on the governments of both jurisdictions to help. They are only ever useful in the most standard cases. In this case, you would need to instruct an attorney in Germany. Depending on your own income, you might however qualify for legal aid and the German government would pay your attorney's fees.

Good luck!

Andreas Moser

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Even though I live in Florida, the German government would pay my attorney fees?  Also, do you know where I would find a good German lawyer.  I do speak German, but would prefer an attorney that spoke English.  I do not believe the state of Florida will be able to accomplish anything for me.

Yes, if you have a case in Germany, then you may qualify for legal aid. It will depend on your income and assets of course, although you might also try to argue that your son's income should be the relevant factor as you are trying to get child support, not spousal support.

If you are on legal aid, you can still pick your own lawyer (if that lawyer accepts to work for on a legal aid basis), but as travelling expenses would not be covered, you'd do best to find somebody close to the father's place of residence.
You shouldn't have any problem finding English speaking lawyers in Germany. The US Consulate has lists as well.

I can't help with the specific search, but I once put together some guidelines on finding a good lawyer in Germany:

Good luck!

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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