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Family law: Constitutional Court strengthens parental custody

The Federal Constitutional Court has decided higher hurdles for the withdrawal of custody. The parents have to decide what a successful upbringing is, not the state.

The Federal Constitutional Court has strengthened the right of parental authority. Parents do not have to positively prove their ability to bring up their children. Instead, the judges justified their decision in the case of a Ghanaian who had lodged a constitutional complaint against the withdrawal of custody of his daughter in order to withdraw custody. (Az. 1 BvR 1178/14) The state should not put its idea of ​​successful child-rearing in place of the parental idea.

In the justification, the judges emphasized that authorities are only allowed to take away their children from parents if the parents are "endangering the child's" physical, mental or emotional well-being "in the long term. If courts rely on expert reports, they have to "strictly" check their validity, decided the Constitutional Court.

The judges thus lifted the deprivation of custody of the applicant's daughter, who was born in February 2013. The girl's mother suffers from severe mental illness and none of her four older children live with her. During the pregnancy with the fifth child, the parents separated. After a negative assessment of the father's suitability for upbringing, the child was placed in a foster family shortly after birth by order of the local court.

In this report, the court found indications that the father had not been treated with the necessary impartiality. The expert did not even ask the question about the risk to the child's welfare. Rather, she rated its origin in a "factually incomprehensible degree" negatively.

In addition, the experts assessed negatively that the father "values ​​the African upbringing methods significantly higher than the European ones" and called "follow-up training" with regard to "the ability to understand European upbringing methods" as necessary.

The family courts had confirmed the decision of the youth welfare office. They had based themselves on an expert opinion, the usability of which the constitutional judges expressed considerable doubts. It was said on Friday that the "coming to the fore from an African country was rated negatively to an objectively incomprehensible degree" several times. The family court must now re-examine the case.