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German Law/Transfer Jurisdiction for Child Support

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Question
My husband currently is paying on a German child support order.  We live in the US and we recently learned that the mother and child have moved here to the US with her new husband.  My question is can jurisdiction be transferred from Germany to the US without both parties consent?  In the original German Child support order there is not an age limit mentioned, and the child is just entering high school.  For the older child there was an age limit specified for him of 21, and he has already reached that age.  Therefore, we are no longer paying on him.  If both parties agree to move it to the US, and we both agree on an age limit is that permissible?  It just so happens however that both of the US states the parties live in go to the age of 19.   Also, if we do transfer it to the US, how does one go about canceling the order in Germany?  I appreciate your time.

Answer
If both parties agree, anything is permissible. This is a civil matter and the parties can (in Germany at least) agree on whatever they want as long as the state is not involved in the form of welfare payments. In the US, that would depend on your state law but if both parties agree and payments are being made in accordance with that agreement, I don't see it going to court.

In the absence of any agreement, the matter is more complicated:
1. The German court order will continue to remain in place until it is amended or revoked by the court who issued it. A US court cannot overrule a German court order (or vice versa).
2. However, a US court could decide that the German court order cannot be enforced in the US. If your husband doesn't have any assets in Germany, then that's all he needs. It won't do away with the court order completely, but it will only be valid in Germany, where nothing can be collected.
3. Jurisdiction has changed with the child's move to the US, although if you live in different states, it would still be up to US law to decide which state has jurisdiction.

My advice would depend on whether your husband can talk to the mother to seek some agreement and on how enforcement is being handled (payments directly to mother, payments to German collection agency or - and this is usually the most complicated scenario - payment through a US state agency which enforces the German court order).

As to the age limit, as I said you are free to negotiate anything and you are now subject to the laws of the states involved, but I want to explain briefly why German child support orders don't include an age limit: German child support law depends on the financial situation of the parties involved. Child support payments end when the child earns enough himself/herself. That could be at age 16 when they drop out of High School and start working as a gardener, or that could be at age 27 when they have finally finished their PhD in sociology. Because the court cannot predict that, it leaves that question open for the parties to agree (hopefully) or return to court later.

Andreas Moser
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German Law

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Andreas Moser

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Publications
www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com

Education/Credentials
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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