What makes fatherhood so special

Who is the father? Determination of paternity

The maternity of a child is usually clear and does not need to be specially determined at birth. In the fatherhood a distinction must be made as to whether a mother is married or not when the child is born.

Married mothers

If a mother is married when her child is born, the law presumes that the husband is the father. His paternity is not specifically established.

Acknowledgments of paternity of another man are generally without legal effect.

Avoiding paternity

If the husband is not the father, paternity can be challenged in court within a two-year period. In addition to the husband, the mother and child as well as, under very limited conditions, the biological father and, if necessary, an authority entitled to challenge are entitled to challenge. In principle, the period begins with knowledge of the circumstances that speak against paternity. Further regulations apply to the child (for example, when they reach the age of majority).

Without prior contestation of paternity, a change of paternity is only possible in exceptional cases if the child is after Pending divorce petition is born and the husband is not the father, provided that no later than one year after the divorce becomes final

  • the father recognizes paternity,
  • the mother agrees to this acknowledgment of paternity and
  • the (possibly previous) husband also agrees.

Then the child will legally receive a new father - albeit at the earliest when the divorce decree becomes final.

Clarification of biological paternity

Since April 1, 2008, it has also been possible to clarify biological paternity without legal paternity contestation proceedings. If necessary, those involved are advised by the local youth and family welfare office (youth welfare office).

If the father, mother or child has doubts about paternity, one of them can - without notice - ask everyone involved to consent to a genetic test to clarify the biological origin; the cost of the investigation must be borne by the client. Secret paternity tests, which always violate the constitutional rights of the child, are thus superfluous. This clarification creates certainty as to whether the husband is the father of the child or not, but it does not change the existence of his legal paternity.
The social and legal family can thus be preserved.

Only if one of the parties involved wants it, after the clarification, he or she has the - limited - possibility of judicial contestation of paternity in order to "eliminate" the existing legal paternity.

Unmarried mothers

Image: © FHH

If a mother is not married at birth, paternity always needs to be clarified separately by a documentary acknowledgment of paternity (with the consent of the mother) or by a judicial determination of paternity.

You can find more information on this in the brochure "Information for mothers who are not married when their child is born". Regarding the subject of contestation of paternity / biological declaration of paternity, reference is made accordingly to the statements above.

For all questions regarding the determination of paternity, mothers will be contacted by the District Office (Assistance Department) informs, advises and supports. Upon request, the youth welfare office will clarify the child's paternity as an adviser.

Notarizations of the acknowledgment of paternity as well as the necessary consents are possible free of charge at the - even before the birthAssistance Department and at Registry office as well as for a fee at notary.