Acknowledging paternity and maternity and declaring parental custody

Information in English

Welcome to the online service for acknowledging paternity and maternity, and declaring parental custody. This online service is currently available in German only. For this reason, you will find a summary of the most important information in English below.

This is where you will find information on the following topics for parents who are not married to each other and who are not or were not married to each other when their child was born.

  • Acknowledging paternity
  • Declaring joint parental custody
  • Legal changes brought about by certifications
  • Acknowledging maternity

All you need to know about acknowledging paternity, maternity, and declaring parental custody

Acknowledging paternity and declaring joint parental custody can be certified at the relevant public authority. The certification is a highly personal matter and can only be done by appearing before a public official who is authorised to perform it in person.

Some mothers who are not German nationals require an acknowledgement of maternity due to the law in their home country. Mothers who are German nationals do not need to do this.

You can use the online service to find the right office and then request the certification service you need.

To find out if you require a certification service, the request process commences with a pre-certification check. You can then enter your personal details and submit a request for an appointment for the certification to take place on site at the relevant office.


Acknowledging paternity

If as parents you are not married to each other, your child will initially have no legal father. However, fathers can have their paternity recognised and certified at the relevant youth welfare office (Jugendamt), registry office or by a notary public. The child's mother must consent to the acknowledgement of paternity. Acknowledging paternity is a prerequisite for you to be able to declare joint parental custody.


Declaring joint parental custody

If as parents you are not married to each other, the mother initially has sole custody. If you wish to exercise joint parental custody, you can have this certified at the youth welfare office or by a notary.


Legal changes brought about by certifications

If you declare joint parental custody, you will decide together on all important matters that concern your child. This includes, for example, where your child is to live, their religion or choice of school. You undertake to consider the best interests of your child when it comes to making decisions. If one of the parents is no longer able to care for the child, the other parent assumes responsibility for them. Any change or termination of joint parental custody can only be effected by means of a decision by a family court.


Acknowledging maternity

Mothers who are German nationals do not need to have their maternity recognised. In Germany, you only need a certificate of maternity if you are a citizen of a country that requires one. This is a legally effective declaration by a woman that she is the mother of the child born to her.


Language spoken at the certifications

The appointment at the youth welfare office or registry office will be conducted in German. You can have an interpreter with you at the appointment to assist you. However, they must not be related to you by birth or marriage and must be over 18 years of age. Please also bring a valid photo ID of the person who is doing the interpreting along with you to the appointment.

The certificate will be issued in German. If you have any questions regarding a translation or if you need an interpreter, please do not hesitate to call us.