Questions and Answers on parentage?

Why is it so important not to wait too long before disputing paternity when there are doubts about paternity?

Legal paternity establishes substantial and long-lasting legal relationships. For the child born in the existing marriage, the mother's husband becomes the legal father even if the spouses have been living apart for a long time and agree that the child is descended from the mother's new partner. The timely clarification of the parentage relationships should be examined particularly thoroughly, because both the German and most other legal systems provide strict rules and preclusive periods for the challenge of paternity by the adult parties involved, the non-observance of which can lead to a change of status being definitively ruled out. From a certain point in time, the child's need for stable living conditions should take precedence over the interest of an adult party to bring about a change in status. German law provides for a preclusive period of two years for contesting paternity, which begins to run as soon as the person concerned learns of circumstances that speak against biological paternity (§ 1600b Abs. 1 BGB). This time limit should be taken very seriously if there are clues to doubt the biological paternity of the legal father.

What can I do if the mother does not consent to the parentage test - apart from challenging the paternity?

In order to mitigate particularly serious consequences, the legislator has admittedly opened up the possibility, in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Constitutional Court, of enforcing the performance of a genetic parentage expert opinion even outside the clarification of legal parentage in the case of existing legal paternity. In view of the considerable consequences and the strict exclusion rules, however, it remains the case that in this area it is particularly important to examine the possibilities of judicial clarification at an early stage and to obtain qualified legal advice.

What should be considered when determining paternity?

When it comes to establishing legal paternity, the father can, with the consent of the mother, have the acknowledgement of paternity certified at the youth welfare office or the registry office. If one of the parties involved refuses to make this declaration, an application for a determination of paternity can be made to the Family Court.

If this is not possible under German law, in the case of binational families there is the possibility that paternity can be established under the law of the other state and the application for this can be successful.

The choices of international family law based on the nationality of the persons involved may therefore broaden the scope of action.