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Child protection and losing custody of child in Germany

Updated: Mar 13

Similar to other parts of the world, parents have the responsibility and obligation to take care of their children in Germany. However, in Germany, local communities and government agencies play a crucial role in safeguarding children and young individuals from parental neglect and abuse.

Germany's child protection system explicitly states that children must be able to develop as healthy as possible. In order to ensure their well-being, they need to be cared for and protected from all threats. It is the parents' responsibility to ensure that their children's fundamental rights are protected. It is the state's responsibility to ensure that parents perform this task adequately.

A court can take away custody of a child from their parents if they fail to protect the child repeatedly. A court will only do this if it is necessary for the welfare of the child and there is no other way to protect them from danger or abuse.

Withdrawal of custody of a child in Germany

Any situation that adversely affects the child's wellbeing both physically and psychologically may lead to the loss of custody. This is not limited to physical violence, but if the parents are neglectful in terms of the child's welfare, then a judge can decide to withdraw the custody from them. This includes not feeding the child properly, not getting medical attention for the child, or allowing the environment to be hazardous. A parent who is negligent in keeping their own children safe may lose custody rights. The courts and the Department of Social Services remain responsible for assessing the case.

Physical violence as well as verbal abuse can trigger the authorities. It is important to note that verbal violence towards the child is not the only form of abuse; a conflict between the parents that escalates to shouting and verbal violence can affect the welfare of the child and put it at risk.

Losing custody of the child has nothing to do with the parent’s religion or nationality. In the past, many German parents have lost custody of their children due to negligence.

Every EU member country agrees on the protection of children. However it is implemented differently in different countries. Child protection system is very stringently in the Scandinavian countries.

What happens when the child is taken away from the parents in Germany?

Initially, the children are taken to a care center or nursery. In some cases however, they are handed over to foster families later. Pflegefamilies are families that take care of children professionally.

It is, however, not an easy process to remove a child from its parents. The children's family must be in very difficult conditions to reach this point. A number of meetings are held with the parents, who are counseled to change the way they treat their children. When circumstances call for a speedy withdrawal, the Social Services Department will assist the police. There are cases in which children should be taken away from their parents until a court decision has been made, and the Social Services department will be in charge of the child until the case has been decided.

Losing custody of the child has nothing to do with the parent’s religion or nationality. In the past, many German parents have lost custody of their children due to negligence.

Getting custody of the child back in Germany.

In the event that the parent loses custody of the child, there are often legal avenues to try and get custody back. To restore custody of the child, the parents can go to the court and object to the actions of the police or social service department. You need to have a lawyer and the lawyer can negotiate the terms with the court. It is however recommended to have a lawyer insurance before reaching out to one.

After losing custody of a child in Germany, am I allowed to see my child?

In the event that a child is taken away, the parents can still see them, unless harassment or sexual exploitation of the child was the reason that custody was withdrawn.


German Civil Code Section 1666 Judicial measures in the event of endangerment of the child's well-being

German Civil Code Section 1666a BGB Principle of proportionality; Priority of public aid

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