Custody in Germany

Child custody law in GermanyThe term “custody” in the German legal system describes all rights and duties of the legal guardian to care for the minor child. These rights and duties begin with the birth of the child and ends when the child comes of age. They are indispensable, inheritable and non-transferable. However, they can be partially restricted or even withdrawn by the court.

What does custody encompass in Germany?

Custody (§§ 1626 – 1711 BGB) basically covers two areas of obligation for the custodians: personal custody and the management of assets on behalf of the child. Personal custody regulates those areas of life that are relevant to a child’s life and character formation (e.g. care, upbringing, education and choice of occupation) and those that affect physical and mental well-being (e.g. medical interventions). By contrast, custodial responsibility over the management of assets covers the child’s financial affairs (e.g. savings books, property and real estate).

If the parents are married when the child is born, they automatically share custodial rights and obligations. If they are unmarried, the mother has sole custody. However, the parents can submit a declaration of custody to apply for common custody. The father also has the possibility to apply for custody even against the will of the mother. The mother can object to the application by giving reasons against common custody. If she does not do so, the father’s application is usually granted.

If common custody exists, it will continue to exist even after a separation or divorce. Only in exceptional situations can custody of the child be transferred to one parent alone.

Custodial law in Germany is very complex, and the legal possibilities always depend upon how well the parents communicate, whether there are joint arrangements and other agreements, and which decisions are beneficial to the child’s welfare. Therefore, questions such as “How often may I see my child”, “Can I apply for sole custody”, “Do I have to pay alimony even though I am not allowed to see my child” or “May I take my child with me abroad” always depend upon the individual case.

Experienced attorneys in Germany.

Jackson Law International is pleased to present its German attorneys, who are admitted to practice law in that country and who allow us to provide a pleasant, competent, and trustworthy international collaborative representation of our clients where borders play no role. We are familiar with German family law and, due to our experience in dealing with such matters, have particularized knowledge and contacts in and concerning the German legal system.


We encourage you to also take some time to review our website to learn more about our law firm, our attorneys, and fields of practice.

Once you have done so, we encourage you to contact us to discuss your family law matter in Germany.

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