International Parental Child Abduction

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Country Information

Germany

Germany
Federal Republic of Germany
Exercise increased caution in Germany due to terrorism.

Exercise increased caution in Germany due to terrorism.

Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Germany. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Germany:

  • Be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and crowded public venues.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Reports for Germany.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
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Hague Convention Participation

Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes

What You Can Do

Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Berlin

Clayallee 170,
14191 Berlin
Germany
Telephone:
+(49) (30) 8305-1200
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(49) (30) 8305-0
Fax: +(49) (30) 8305-1215
Email: 

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Frankfurt
Giessener Str. 30
60435 Frankfurt am Main
Federal Republic of Germany
Telephone:
+(49) (69) 7535-2100 (routine calls, 2-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, except on U.S. and German holidays, and the last Thursday of each month.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(49) (69) 7535-0
Fax: +(49) (69) 7535-2252
Passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, and Citizenship:
All other questions:

General Information

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.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

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.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State 
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
CA/OCS/CI 
SA-17, 9th Floor 
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website:  travel.state.gov

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
53113 Bonn. 
Tel: +49-228-99-410-5212
Fax:+49-228-99-410-5401
E-mail: int.sorgerecht@bfj.bund.de
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.

Return

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.

Visitation/Access

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: info@weisser-ring.de.

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.

Mediation

The German federal government is supportive of mediation programs to resolve international parental child abduction cases.  While courts cannot order cases into mediation, judges can and do 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.

The German Central Authority and the judge hearing Hague cases work together to identify cases that are potentially suitable for mediated resolutions and make recommendations accordingly.  Participation in mediation is voluntary.

Mediation organizations in Germany: Bundes-Arbeitgemeinschaft fur Familien-Mediation (BAMF), or the Federal Consortium for Family Mediation, is a privately-funded mediation organization that has a network of multi-lingual mediators.  MiKK (Mediation in international Conflicts involving Parents and Children) is a non-governmental mediation organization that has family mediators fluent in 17 languages.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

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. 

 

Last Updated: October 1, 2012

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Berlin
U.S. Embassy Berlin
Clayallee 170
14191 Berlin
Federal Republic of Germany
Telephone
+(49) (30) 8305-1200
Emergency
+(49) (30) 8305-0
Fax
+(49) (30) 8305-1215

Germany Map