Applying for custody: when, where, how?

Applying for custody is not necessary in all cases. But where does the application have to be made if the worst comes to the worst and what do parents who are not married have to consider? Find the answers to these questions and other useful information about applying for custody here.

Custody is the right and duty of parents to look after their minor child. It covers three areas:

  • Personal well-being: This includes, for example, upbringing, care, supervision, education, housing, clothing and health care.
  • Wealth care: Parents manage their child’s assets.
  • Legal representation: Parents represent their child by entering into contracts on their behalf or by submitting applications to authorities.

Ideally, parents exercise joint custody . When only one parent has custody, it is called sole custody . It is also possible that one parent exercises only part of the custody rights, for example a father who “only” takes over the custody of the property after a separation.

Custody does not equal visitation rights

Custody rights are not to be confused with visitation rights. This applies to the child and both parents, regardless of custody. You can find more information on this in our separate article “What does right of access mean?” .

When to apply for custody?

Whether or not parents need to apply for joint or sole custody depends on their family situation. The following situations are possible:

Married Parents

Married parents automatically have joint custody. So you don’t need to apply for custody.

Divorced parents

Joint custody remains in place even if the parents divorce. If both or just one parent no longer wants this, they must apply for sole custody. This is usually done with a corresponding form at the responsible family court. If both parents agree, the request is usually granted. If only one parent has applied for sole custody, custody proceedings are initiated. The decision as to whether and which parent is granted sole custody is based exclusively on the best interests of the child.

Unmarried Parents

If the parents are not married , custody initially rests with the mother. You don’t need to apply for custody.

If she wants to include the father in joint custody, she can apply to the family court for joint custody. If the father does not present any reasons that conflict with the transfer of joint custody or that endanger the well-being of the child, the application is usually granted.

If only the unmarried father, but not the unmarried mother, would like joint custody to be exercised, the father must apply to the family court for custody. This can be a request for joint or sole custody. Again, decisions are made in the interest of the child.
Note: Only since May 2013 has it been possible for unmarried fathers to apply for custody without the mother’s consent. In our article “Custody for the father” you will find further information on the corresponding change in the law and the background.

If both parents agree that they want to exercise joint custody, this is relatively easy to do. In this case, you do not need to apply for custody, but only to submit an official, written declaration to the youth welfare office or a notary: The mother declares that she would like to share custody. The father declares that he will accept custody.

separated parents

If parents separate who were not married but had joint custody, the situation is the same as after a divorce: joint custody remains. They must apply to the family court for sole custody, or parts thereof.

Children should have contact with both parents and this is more likely to be maintained after a separation if the parents have joint custody. The family courts are of the same opinion. As a rule, they always try to reach an amicable agreement in custody proceedings, for example by advising the parents at the youth welfare office or through mediation.

Joint custody also has advantages for parents who are separated: Important decisions concerning the child, for example school or health issues, do not have to be made by one parent alone. On the other hand, the parent with whom the child lives can make decisions about everyday things or emergencies alone. This makes the coordination effort manageable and uncomplicated and consensual interaction with each other in the sense of the common child possible.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *