You are or have been in a relationship with a German woman. She is pregnant and wants you to pay alimony for the newborn-to-be. But you are not sure whether you are the father. What to do?
This post deals with unmarried couples only. For children born in marriage, German law presumes that the husband is the father. If the husband has doubts about this then he must contest paternity pursuant to see Sec. 1600 German Civil Code, and this needs to happen within two years of learning of the circumstances that give him reason to doubt his paternity, see Sec.1600b German Civil Code.
For children born outside marriage it must be determined who the father is, so called “Vaterschaftsfeststellung” (i.e. determination of paternity), see Sec. 1600d German Civil Code. The basics are explained on German Wikipedia here (however, only in German).
If the mother wants the (potential) father to pay child support and he refuses, then the mother can apply to the court and the court can – eventually – force the male to take a paternity test. However, psychologically, it may be a better alternative to take that test voluntarily, especially if the potential father is interested in joint custody and visitation rights, should it turn out that the child is actually his.
Once it is determined who the father is, then the child is entitled to child support until the child finishes his/her education (see Sec. 1601-1615n German Civil Code). There exist court guidelines, the so called Düsseldorfer Tabelle, to determine the actual amount of child maintenance payments due. In addition, the mother can claim financial support from the male for herself for the period during which she is unable to work because she is taking care of the baby / child (see Sec. 1570 German Civil Code). The details depend on the financial situation of the parents and are unfortunately quite complicated, especially if there are other children and maybe even an ex-partner and a current wife.
For more on German and international family law, in particular on marriage, divorce and child custody rules please also see the posts below or simply click on the “Family Law” button in the right side column of this blog:
- How to Divorce a German (and where)
- Challenging Paternity in Germany and the UK: Very Different Procedures
- Alimony in Germany: Child maintenance and financial support for single mothers
- Broken Engagement in Germany: Engagement Ring must be returned
The law firm Graf & Partners and its German-English forensic services and litigation department GP Chambers was established in 2003 and has many years of experience with British-German and US-German family law and probate matters, including the representation of clients in German litigation and arbitration proceedings. If you wish us to advise or represent you in a German or cross border legal matter please send an email or call us on +49 941 463 7070.