• Germany's news in English

EU court rules German custody laws discriminate against fathers

DPA/The Local · 3 Dec 2009, 17:24

Published: 03 Dec 2009 17:24 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The six to one decision was in favour of a 45-year-old father from Cologne. He has has been trying to gain custody of his 14-year-old daughter for eight years after a state court denied him dual custody in 2003.

According to current German law, unmarried fathers can only get partial or full custody of their children with the consent of the mother, which the man did not have.

“There is no reason to keep the right to child custody from a father when he wants to take on this responsibility,” the father in the case said. “The German government has known about this problem for ten years. But I fear that only a minimal solution will be found and the right of the mother will remain in the foreground.”

Germany’s high court in Karlsruhe codified this law in 2003, explaining that giving mothers a veto avoided long-term legal battles between unmarried couples. A single father pays child support but has no right to make any decisions and can also be prevented from seeing his children. Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are the only other countries in Europe with similar custody laws.

Meanwhile child custody is generally split between married couples.

But in a country where the Federal Statistics Office shows that every third child was born out of wedlock in 2008, the law has come under increasing pressure.

The court in Strasbourg has given Germany three months to review the law.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger reacted on Thursday by calling for a fundamental review of rights for single fathers.

Story continues below…

Väteraufbruch, an association dedicated to the legal rights of fathers was optimistic about the verdict.

“Germany won’t be able to do anything but go along with the common legal situation in Europe,” Väteraufbruch's Ulrich Mueller said, adding that the country should institute an “automatic dual child custody similar to that in France.”

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

15:22 December 10, 2009 by Pascal from Belgium
The situation is bad, when you are a single father in Germany. It gets even worse when you were a married foreign father, in Germany...

Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd