Unmarried fathers to get automatic joint custody over children

Unmarried fathers to get automatic joint custody over children
Photo: DPA
Fathers who are not married to the mothers of their children could soon automatically have equal rights over their children, with Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger preparing to change the law in their favour.

The idea is to introduce a presumption of joint custody over children, rather than the current presumption of a mother’s right to sole custody, according to a report in the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has told officials to draw up a draft to make the change, and intends to start it on the way to becoming law this autumn.

“Children should have the right that their fathers taken on responsibility and make joint-decisions over important things in their lives,” Stephan Thomae, family rights expert from Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger’s Free Democratic Party.

He said unmarried parents would share custody unless the mother – or presumably, the father – convinces a court to grant her sole custody over the child.

The Christian Democratic Union would seem to be in favour of the proposal, according to Ute Granold, who speaks on family matters for the parliamentary CDU.

“Living together should not be a prerequisite for joint custody,” she said.

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