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Competent German courts

Among the more than 600 family courts in Germany, only 22 have jurisdiction for proceedings concerning return, access/contact and recognition and enforcement proceedings pursuant to Sections 10-12, 47 International Family Law Procedure Act (the family court in the district of which a Court of Appeal has its seat; for Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) with its three Courts of Appeal, the Family Court Celle only). This applies to the following proceedings:

  • return of a child who has been abducted to Germany to another Contracting State pursuant to the Hague Child Abduction Convention,
  • proceedings for contact between a child living in Germany and a parent living in another Member State of the European Union or in another Contracting State of the Hague Child Abduction Convention, the Hague Child Protection Convention or the European Custody Convention if these proceedings are being brought by the Federal Office of Justice,
  • proceedings for recognition and/or declaration of enforceability of a foreign custody or contact order under the Hague Child Protection Convention, the European Custody Convention or the Brussels II a-Regulation,
  • proceedings for the enforcement of a return or contact order from another EU Member State pursuant to Articles 40 to 42 of the Brussels II a-Regulation, and
  • proceedings for the placement of a child living in another EU Member State (except Denmark) in an institution or foster family in Germany by a foreign judicial or administrative authority or other body.

If a parent living abroad wants to seek contact with a child living in Germany and seizes the competent German court directly without the assistance of the German Central Authority, he or she has the choice between the court with special jurisdiction mentioned above and the ordinary family court in the district of which the child is habitually resident.

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