GermanyOfficial Name: Federal Republic of Germany
Embassies and Consulates
Telephone: (49) (30) 8305-1200 (routine calls, 2-3 p.m. Monday-Thursday)
Emergency Telephone: (49) (30) 8305-0
Fax: (49) (30) 8305-1215
Leipzig: The Berlin Consular Section has assumed responsibility for providing American Citizen Services to the Leipzig area.
U.S. Consulate General Frankfurt
Giessener Str. 30
60435 Frankfurt am Main
Federal Republic of Germany
Telephone: (49) (69) 7535-2102 (routine calls, 2-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday)
Emergency Telephone: (49) (69) 7535-0
Fax: (49) (69) 7535-2252
Germany and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since December 1, 1990.
For information concerning travel to Germany, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Germany.
Hague Abduction Convention
The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Germany. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
The German Central Authority (GCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Bundesamt für Justiz, located in the Ministry of Justice. The GCA has an administrative role in processing Hague applications. The Ministry of Justice forwards completed Hague petitions to the appropriate German family court. Among the more than 600 German family courts, only 22 have jurisdiction in proceedings concerning return, access, and recognition and enforcement under the Hague Child Abduction Convention. You can find the list of competent German courts here. Parents or legal guardians and other parties (e.g., the child) have the right to their own counsel.
The German Central Authority can be reached at:
German Central Authority
Zentrale Behörde, Adenauerallee 99-103
Website: German Central Authority
To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Germany, the USCA encourages a parent or legal guardian to review the eligibility criteria and instructions for completing the Hague application form located at the Department of State website and contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the GCA. It is extremely important that each document written in English be translated into German in order to be accepted by a German court. Official documents (court orders, etc.) must be translated by a sworn translator (vereidigter Übersetzer). Letters, statements, and other documentation may be translated unofficially. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the GCA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.
There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or the German central authorities. Attorney fees are the responsibility of the applicant parent. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.
A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, Germany. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Germany. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
Retaining an Attorney
The GCA can appoint an English-speaking attorney with Hague experience to represent left-behind parents in Hague cases. The fee for these legal services is 1500 Euros and must be paid at the time the applicant submits the Hague application. A parent who is unable to pay the fee may apply for German legal aid. Under certain circumstances, legal aid may also be available in cases of international child abduction from some non-governmental organizations, including Weisser Ring. For more information, contact: email@example.com.
Parents may also choose to retain private legal counsel in Germany to handle their Hague case. A parent who hires private counsel should notify both the German and the U.S. central authorities.
The U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany, posts lists of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.
This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.
The German federal government is extremely supportive of mediation programs to resolve international parental abduction cases. While courts cannot order cases into mediation, judges can and do strongly encourage mediated resolutions and can stay hearings to permit parties the time to mediate. In general, social workers, family lawyers, and judges not hearing the case can serve as mediators in their particular geographic region. Fees are normally based on hourly rates, but a sliding scale or negotiated rate is sometimes available.
Bundes-Arbeitgemeinschaft für Familien-Mediation (BAFM), or the Federal Consortium for Family Mediation, is a privately-funded, countrywide mediation organization with a network of multi-lingual mediators in all 16 German states. The German Central Authority and the judge hearing the Hague case work together to identify cases that are potentially suitable for mediated resolutions and make recommendations accordingly. Participation in mediation is voluntary.
The non-governmental organization MiKK (Mediation in international Conflicts involving Parents and Children) deals with mediation in cross-border child abduction, custody, and visitation cases. This is a joint project of the two largest mediation associations in Germany, and their network includes 60 specialized and experienced family mediators who are fluent in 17 languages.
Do not attempt to take back your child
We strongly discourage taking matters into your own hands. The measures could be illegal and may delay your child’s return. Attempts to re-abduct your child from the United States may:
- Endanger your child and others;
- Prejudice any future judicial efforts you might wish to make in the United States; and
- Could even result in your arrest and imprisonment.
Finally, there is no guarantee that the chain of abductions would end with the one committed by you. A parent who has re-abducted a child may have to go to extraordinary lengths to conceal his or her whereabouts, living in permanent fear that the child may be re-abducted yet again.
If you are contemplating such desperate measures, we advise you to consider the emotional trauma inflicted on a child who is a victim of an abduction and a re-abduction. We discourage re-abduction not only because it is illegal, but also because of possible psychological harm to the child.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction.