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Determination of a child's parentage

General information

After the birth of a child, the question of the child’s descent/ parentage arises. This mostly concerns the determination of paternity. The motherhood of the child is ususally not a problem:  The mother is the woman who gave birth to the child. However, in some cases the motherhood can be questioned; for example in the case of same-sex partnerships and surrogacy. If this applies to you, please contact Sydney Consulate General.

Contact the German Consulat Sydney

In international cases (e.g when the child is born abroad), the question of the applicable law must be clarified first. The law of the country in which the child has its “habitual residence” / domicile (at the time of birth and consecutive months) is applied. The term "habitual residence" is not defined by law, but is assumed to be a period of approximately 6 months. The legal basis is Art. 19 para. 1 EGBGB ("Introductory Law to the Civil Code").

Habitual residence of child in Germany

When a child is born in Germany, the determination of parentage depends on the martial status of the mother:

Mother's marital status at the time of the child's birth
child's parentage
The mother is married

Mother is the woman who gave birth to the child.

Father is the mother's husband.

The mother is not married

Mother is the woman who gave birth to to child.

Father is the man who declared his fatherhood through acknowledgement of paternity. A prenatal acknowledgement of paternity is possible. If the mother is a German citizen, she will have to give her consent to the acknowledgement of paternity. In some cases the child has to declare his/ her consent as well.

Habitual residence of child in Australia

In Australia, a differentiation between a married mother and non-married mother is usually not known:

Mother
Father
Mother is the woman who gave birth to to child.

The child's birth certificate is usually sufficient proof of paternity. The registration of a man as the father of a child does is in most cases not possible without the mother's consent. Therefore, an additional acknowledgement of paternity according to German law is not needed if:

a) both parents are listed as "parents" on the birth certificate of the child AND

b) both parents are listed as "informants" on the birth certificate of the child

Australia does not differentiate between children born in or out of wedlock.

However, in some cases only one "informant" is listed on the child's birth certificate (e.g. birth certificates from ACT or Tasmania). In these cases, an acknowledgement of paternity and/ or a declaration of consent by the mother might have to be done. Please contact the Consulate General in Sydney for more information.

Contact the German Consulate General in Sydney

Acknowledgment of paternity

If the child’s parents are married at the time of birth of the child generally no acknowledgement of paternity is needed.

If the child’s parents are not married at the time of birth then the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Australia usually includes both parents as “informants” in the child’s birth certificate (exemptions apply). This constitutes a formal acknowledgement of paternity in Australian law and is recognised by German law as well (Articles 11, 19, 23 EGBGB).

If the father of the child is not mentioned on the child’s birth certificate then a formal acknowledgement of paternity is usually needed. In some cases, the mother has to declare her consent as well.

In these cases we ask you to fill in the questionnaire below and send it together with the necessary documents mentioned on the form by e-Mail (info@sydney.diplo.de) to the Consulate General for further assessment.

Questionnaire for recognition of paternity

The acknowledgement of paternity can be notarized before the birth of the child. The German Mission can refuse to notarize acknowledgements of paternity. If you have any questions, please contact the German Consulate in Sydney

Contact the German Consulate Sydney

Registration of a child’s birth

If your child was born in Australia you have to register the birth with the local Australianregistry office (Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages). German law does not require the registration at a German authority; you may use the Australian birth certificate when applying for a passport for the child. If you want to have a German birth certificate for your child, you will need to register the birth in Germany.

Please note: If the German parent of the child was born outside Germany after the 31st December 1999, the child will only obtain German citizenship when its birth is registered in Germany before the child’s first birthday. See more information here:

Non-acquisition of German citizenship

Important: In German law a child whose parents are married at the time of the child’s birth and who bear a married name (Ehename) will obtain the parents’ married name as birth name. In cases where the parents are married, but do not have a married name, or when the parents are not married and another name as the mother’s surname is desired as the child’s surname, the parents will have to make a name declaration as part of the birth registration.

More information about German name law

If a name declaration is not needed, the application for registration of a child's birth can also be lodged by one parent alone. 

To register your child's birth in Germany, please book an appointment. Pleae note that if a name declaration is needed, both parents will have to come to the appointment, as their signatures have to be certified on the application form.

Make an appointment

Documents

At the appointment, the following documents are required as originals and two photocopies each:

  • Completed form (please write in capital letters and do not sign the form yet)
    Application form Registration of birth
  • Valid passports for both parents (or German identity card/Personalausweis)
  • Birth certificates of both parents
  • Child’s birth certificate
  • If you wish to make a name declaration by choosing the foreign law of one parent, proof that the child bears the intended name under the law of the respective country (passport or birth certificate issued by the authorities of that country)
  • If you are married: your marriage certificate
  • Divorce order for divorcees
  • If the child and/ or a parent got naturalized: Naturalisation certificate and "Beibehaltungsurkunde", if applicable
  • Proof of residence in Australia (e.g. Australian driver's licence)
  • German deregistration certificate (Abmeldebescheinigung) from your last German place of residence or current registration certificate (Meldebescheinigung) from your most recent address in Germany
  • Translations of foreign documents (usually not required for English or “international” documents, for example international birth certificates)
  • Birth certificates of all other children of the parents including older siblings
  • Name certificates of siblings, if applicable

Depending on the case more documents can become necessary or may subsequently be requested by the relevant register office (Standesamt) in Germany.

Your application will then be forwarded to the competent registry office (Standesamt) in Germany, where it will be processed.

Fees

Two different fees incur;

1) Fees to be paid at your appointment at the (Honorary) Consulate for certifying your signature on the application form (20 EUR if name declaration is not necessary, 25 EUR if name declaration is necessary) and certifying the copies to be sent to the Registry Office in Germany (10 EUR per document). All fees to be in paid in AUD according to current exchange rate.

2) Fees charged by the Registry Office in Germany for processing your application and issueing a birth certificate are usually between 80 and 120 EUR and are to be paid directly to the Registry Office per bank transfer. These fees cannot be paid to the Consulates in Australia. Once your application is processed in Germany, you will receive an email with payment details.

Processing times

Please note that we cannot predict how long this process will take. Processing times may vary considerably depending on the complexity of the case and the individual registrar’s office and might amount to a few years.

Determination of child custody

Child custody in international cases

After clarifying the question of a newborn child's parentage, it is important to determine who has parental custody for the child. 

In international cases (e.g when the child is born abroad), the question of the applicable law must be clarified first. The law of the country in which the child has its “habitual residence” / domicile (at the time of birth and consecutive months) is applied. The term "habitual residence" is not defined by law, but is assumed to be a period of approximately 6 months. The legal basis is Art. 16 of the Convention of 19 October 1996 on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children.

Habitual residence of child in Germany

If a child is born in Germany, the determination of who has custody for the child depends on the marital status of the parents:

Marital status of parents at time of child's birth
Child custody at the time of birth
Parents are married
Both parents have joint custody for the child. Sole custody can only be granted through a Family Law Court decision.
Parents are not married
The mother has sole custody for the child. The father can get joint custody through an acknowledgement of paternity and a declaration of joint custody. The mother's consent is needed for both declarations.


Habitual residence of child in Australia

If a child is born in Australia, the determination of who has custody for the child depends on the marital status of the parents:

Marital status of parents at time of child's birth
Child custody at the time of birth
Parents are married
Both parents have joint custody for the child. Sole custody can only be granted through a Family Law Court decision.
Parents are not married
The mother has sole custody for the child. The father gets joint custody automatically once his fatherhood is legally established, e.g. through issuance of birth certificat of the child. A declaration of joint custody according to German law is not necessary.

Change of habitual residence of child

Please note that the change of habitual residence of a child may have an effect on the matter of custody!

Example:

A child is born in Germany. The parents are not married, but the father acknowledged his paternity and is consequently named as father in the child's birth certificate. Because the parents never gave a declaration of joint custody, the mother has sole custody for the child. She now relocated to Australia with the child. Due to the change of habitual residence of the child, Australian law is now applicable on the question of determination of child custody. According to Australian law, both parents have joint custody for the child. Therefore, the relocation from Germany to Australia established the father's custody for the child - even if the father is still in Germany! To regain sole custody, the mother has to get a Family Law Court decision from the competent Australian court.  


Application form

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