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German High Court: State Can't Force Parents to Visit Children

Parents cannot be forced to maintain contact with their children, Germany's highest court ruled on Tuesday. The judges did decide, however, that they'd allow an exception to the rule.

Father with child feeding swans

One dad was so adamant about not seeing his son that he took the case to the highest court

Forcing a parent to visit their child is in most cases not in the best interest of the child, concluded Germany's Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe on Tuesday, April 1.

The issue of forced visitation reached the Constitutional Court after a father in Brandenburg refused contact with his nine-year-old son, who had been conceived as a result of an extra-marital affair.

The married father had been threatened with a fine of 25,000 euros ($39,000) for not visiting the boy, which the high court decided was a violation of his personal rights.

However, the court ruled that, in exceptional cases where contact with the parent is in the best interest of the child, the state could force visitation by levying fines.

Mine or his?

Test tubes

Paternity tests can be ordered by court but can't be done secretly

The court decision coincides with a new law in Germany that makes it legally easier to carry out paternity tests. It takes effect on April 1.

Until now, both would-be parents and the child had to agree to the test. Now, one of the three parties can demand a paternity test in a family court, even if one or both of the other parties are opposed. Secret tests are still not recognized by law and have no influence on custody rights and child support.

The law effectively allows a man to request a paternity test against the will of his alleged child's mother and without needing to resort to a legal challenge, which would automatically sever his legal ties to the child.

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