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Custody vs. contact rights – are there differences?

THE TERM “CUSTODY” IS WELL-KNOWN AND IS OFTEN EQUALIZED OR EVEN CONFUSED WITH THE TERM “RIGHT OF CONTACT” (FORMER “RIGHT OF VISITING”). DON’T CONFUSE AUTHORITY AND RIGHT TO CONTACT! THIS ARTICLE IS INTENDED TO GIVE YOU AN INSIGHT ON THE SUBJECT, BUT NATURALLY DOES NOT REPLACE LEGAL ADVICE.

1. What is custody and what does it include?

Exercising custody of a minor child means taking on the care and upbringing, asset management and legal representation of the child.

If the parents of a child are married , both parents have custody.

If the parents are not married to each other , the mother alone is generally entitled to exercise custody, but custody of both parents can be agreed upon. Since 2013, it has often been the case that courts have tended to give custody to both parents (even after the marriage or household has dissolved). If both parents have custody, a main place of residence for the child must be determined.

2. What is the “right of contact”?

The right of contact means the right of the parents and also the right of the child to have contact with one another . In the past, contact rights were also known as visitation rights. For the right of contact, it is not decisive whether child support is paid or not. The extent of the right of contact depends essentially on the age of the child and on previous practice. In the best case, personal contacts can be settled amicably after the parents separate or divorce. Sometimes, however, the need to make contact arrangements causes major conflicts. If necessary, contacts can or must be determined by the courts. The top priority when making contacts is the child’s well-being. Normally, regular contact is in the best interests of the child.

3. Who bears the cost of the contacts? What about tickets for the zoo or the cinema, for example?

In principle, the parent who is entitled to contact is responsible for arranging contact with their children and must also bear the costs for this. For example, if the father who is entitled to contact goes to the swimming pool with their children, he cannot bill the child’s mother for the fries consumed there. It could be different if the parent with whom the children stay mainly and who also receives child maintenance from the other parent buys clothing that is appropriate for the season. Under certain circumstances, a purchased winter jacket can then be replaced.

4. Who has to pick up the child? Who has to take the child where?

In principle, the parent authorized to contact must pick up the child from their permanent place of residence and bring it back again and must also bear the costs for this. However, in exceptional cases, the court may make other arrangements.

5. Do I have to give my child clothes (a change of clothes), maybe even toys?

The parent with whom the child is constantly present must provide the other parent, i.e. the parent who is authorized to contact, with appropriate equipment. However, the latter must also treat the items with care and hand them back to them.

6. What actually is the double residence?

“Double residence” means that the child or children continue to live with both parents after the physical separation of the parents. This should be done in such a way that the children spend about the same amount of time with both parents. This model requires particularly good cooperation between parents and also has serious implications for any child support issues.

7. Do grandparents also have a right of contact?

yes there is However, this is weaker than the parents’ right and is only granted to a lesser extent. The personal contacts of the grandparents are only granted to the extent that the family life of the parents or one of the parents or their relationship with the child is not impaired.

8. What is family court assistance?

Family court assistance was created with the 2013 Law on the Change of Childhood and Name Rights.

The family court assistance is commissioned by the competent court to participate in the proceedings in custody and contact proceedings. Among other things, the Family Court Aid prepares professional statements or carries out clearing procedures. Family court assistance therefore plays an important role in proceedings.

9. What does a procedure look like?

The district courts are responsible. There is no reimbursement of costs in proceedings relating to custody and contact with underage children. This means that if one decides to engage legal counsel, each side will have to pay for its own lawyers, regardless of who initiated the case or who “wins”.

10. Can Law and Beyond help me with my family law difficulties?

Of course! Feel free to make an appointment for a consultation. We support you in finding the best solution for you.

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