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German Law/Establishing paternity. India & Germany


My daughter who is an Indian citizen met and fell in love with a German citizen while studying in Italy. She stayed with him for a short while in Germany. The relationship didn't work and she came back to India when she was pregnant. Subsequently the baby was born and is an year old now. Since he was born in India he has an Indian birth certificate. The father would like to establish paternity so the baby could have a German citizenship which when he becomes an adult he can choose to keep or not. My daughter would like to know the extend of rights the father will have if she allows paternity to be established. She is not interested in shared custody which will require a lot of joint agreements before any decision regarding travel, schooling etc etc is undertaken.
Also does the father have legal rights to establish  paternity if my daughter refuses. Does the unmarried father have a legal right to  contact if the mother is not in favour of it and she is staying in India.

Dear Shanti,

1) It's not true that the child will have to decide between German or Indian citizenship later. He will be able to keep both forever.

2) The father can ask for establishment of paternity even if your daughter doesn't agree. It's also the child's right to have two parents. If your daughter refuses, the father can either file for paternity in Germany or in an Indian court. A German court would order DNA samples of your daughter and the child and would try to enforce that court order through the Indian justice system. It might therefore be quicker for the father to file a paternity lawsuit in India, and then everything will happen according to Indian law.

3) Once paternity is established,
a) the father has right to contact and visitation with the child, just as the child has a right to contact and visitation with the father;
b) the father has an obligation to pay child support,
c) but it won't have any effect on custody under German law because (1) the child doesn't live in Germany, so German child custody law doesn't apply, and (2) even if it did, German law does not automatically give shared custody to unmarried parents.

4) If your daughter plans to remain living in India, German law is far less relevant in this case than Indian law, about which I unfortunately know much less.

5) My overall advice would depend on your daughter's long-term plans and on the need for child support (and whether the father earns enough to pay). But generally, I would advise to establish paternity because it gives the child a second citizenship (and quite a useful one), it gives the child inheritance rights and most importantly, it usually causes psychological problems later on when the child find out that the mother denied paternity. I have seen many cases where the child then turns against the mother (usually in the rebellious teenage years) or runs away. Nowadays with everyone being on the internet, it's just a question of time until father and son will be able to make contact, whether your daughter likes it or not. By postponing it, she would deny a fundamental right of the child and possibly cause severe psychological problems. - I understand that this whole affair might be stressful for your daughter now, but it will be more stressful if the son will turn to drugs or crime or suicide in 15 years because of his mother having denied access to his father. I would not risk that.

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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