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German Law/Int'l Paternity Germany-USA


My name is Adam Ifergan, I live in NY. I'm in a terrible situation. Met a German Girl on vacation in 9/2015,  fell in love. She then came to NY for the month of October where we decided to plan a life together, marriage, children, her moving to the US. We decided to start trying to have a baby right away because she is 40 and I'm 43. So after she left to go back to Germany, I decided to visit from Nov 25th till Jan 5th. The day I arrived, she surprised me with the 1st sonogram of our new baby. 3 weeks later, the relationship collapsed and we broke up and I left on Dec 12th. Since then I have been trying to reconcile and get back together but she is not having any of that. Now she is ignoring my calls and texts and I am afraid she will leave me off the baby's birth certificate and keep my child away from me. I am willing to pay child support and want to work out some kind shared custody, even thou I live in the US and she's in Germany but now I have no recourse. What are my options to force a Paternity test and assert my rights as a parent.


ANSWER: Hello Adam,

I am very sorry that the relationship turned out like this. And the geographical distance doesn't make things easier either. But it's not hopeless:

1) Don't worry about the birth certificate. It's pretty much irrelevant and can be amended later. At the time of birth, the municipality will list as the father anyone whom the mother names or nobody, without any checks done.

Of course you can establish paternity later if the mother then still refuses to. You would contact either the "Jugendamt" (Child & Youth Services) to acknowledge paternity without a DNA test or initiate a proceeding in the Family Court where the mother lives and ask for a court-ordered DNA test.

2) Paternity is the basis of all other legal consequences. Therefore, if the mother wants child support, she also has an interest in establishing paternity. Likewise, you will need to establish paternity before we can address the issue of custody and/or visitation.

3) Once paternity is established, you have a right to contact with your child, and your child has a right to contact with you ( 1684 I BGB). Again, in the absence of any agreement, you can contact the "Jugendamt" to try to mediate, but if that fails, there is no other way than to bring a suit for contact before the Family Court in Germany.

4) Custody is tricky. Under German law, if a child is born to an unmarried couple, the mother has sole custody. She could sign a joint custody declaration which would establish shared custody, but there is no way to force her to do so.
You can file for shared custody with the Family Court in Germany, but that usually only makes sense once contact and an emotional relationship have been established. Because by then, it would be much harder for the mother to come up with a defense against your claim.
More details on this proceeding:

All of this has to wait until the baby is born. (Paternity could be acknowledge before it is, but it won't become effective until the mother consents. And no DNA tests can be ordered before the baby's birth.) I would just hope that in the meantime the mother will come to her senses.

If you contact me again when the baby will be born, please include a link to this reply. Thank you!

Andreas Moser

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

QUESTION: Thank you so much for your help, I'm really in the dark. I contacted her and proposed some kind of agreement based on some sort of child support, she agreed to talk about it. How do I establish paternity if she agrees, is there a form or contract we can both sign or if she allows me to be there during the birth and I sign the birth certificate, will that establish paternity??

Dear Adam,

5) I wouldn't sign any acknowledgement of child support without paternity being established. First things first. The mother needs to recognize that without legal establishment of paternity, there won't be child support. (And no alimony, for which German law also provides in the case of unmarried parents.)
Depending on the mother's financial situation, if she files for welfare the welfare agency will also pressure her to establish paternity because they might want to try to recoup any money they pay from you.

6) If the mother agrees, you can establish paternity before the birth. You can either fly to Germany and sign the document at the municipality or you can go to the closest German consulate and sign it there. They will have the forms.

7) Birth certificates aren't really signed in Germany. They will be automatically issued based on the information on file at the municipality. And they can always be printed out again once your paternity will be established. It's nothing that is done at the hospital or wherever else birth will be given.

If you are now already in negotiations with the mother, it might make sense that we speak about the details of your case. Particularly on child support and alimony, my advice would of course also depend on your and the mother's financial situation. Please feel free to contact me at I do charge 400 EUR for a telephonic consultation, but it does cover all the aspects mentioned in greater detail, more tailored towards your specific case and includes more tactical and strategic advice. - If you contact me, please also include a link to this page so that I will remember your case.

But it's good that the mother is talking to you. That makes me a it more hopeful.

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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