Explaining common care for a child

If you, as a parent, are not married to each other at the birth of your child, you can gain joint custody by making both declarations of custody.

If you, as the parents of a child together, are not married to each other at the time of his birth, only the mother has custody. Written information can be provided about the sole care of the mother, the so-called negative certificate.

If you want to have joint custody, both parents must have this declared to the Youth Welfare Office or a notary and notarized.

You can also make the declaration of custody if your child has not yet been born but has already been conceived. However, this is still possible and necessary after the birth if you do not want to marry each other and do not want to seek a court settlement.
A declaration of custody must be publicly notarized. You can arrange this at the youth welfare office responsible for you or for a fee at a notary.

After the submission of concurring declarations of custody, parental authority can only be changed by a decision of the family court.

  • Identity card or passport of the parents
  • In the case of a postnatal declaration: birth certificate of the child in which the father is registered
  • In the case of a prenatal declaration: maternity passport and certificate of recognition of paternity or court order establishing paternity

Forms available: No
Written form required: Yes
Informal application possible: No
Personal appearance required: Yes
Online services available: No


  • The parents are not married to each other.
  • There is legal paternity (through effective recognition or judicial determination)
  • The child does not need to be born yet, but it must be conceived.
  • A court decision on parental care has not yet been made.
  • Parents must appear in person.
  • In principle, the parents must have legal capacity. The declaration of custody by a parent with limited legal capacity requires the consent of his or her legal representative.
  • Both parents speak sufficiently German. If this is not the case:
    • Youth Welfare Office: If you need an interpreter, please let us know the desired language when making an appointment.
    • Notary: If you need an interpreter, you must bring an interpreter to the appointment. This person needs a valid identity document and must not be related or in-laws to the child's parents.


There are no hints or special features.

  • Child and youth welfare

Related Links

  • § 1626d paragraph 1 of the German Civil Code (BGB)
  • 1626a Civil Code (BGB)
  • § 59 Social Code (SGB) - Eighth Book (VIII) - Child and Youth Welfare

For the declaration of custody, you must make a personal appointment with the Youth Welfare Office or in a notary's office:

  • If not already done, the father must first effectively acknowledge paternity.
  • Both parents must appear in person
  • In the appointment you will be informed about the legal consequences of the custody declarations. This will then be read to you and signed by both parents.
  • Both parents receive certified copies of the document.

Responsible for the content
Federal Ministry of Justice (BMJ)

Last update or date of publication