Recognition of paternity in Switzerland

every child in Switzerland has the right to know his biological father. If a child is born by a married mother, the husband is legally accepted as a father. However, if the parents are not married, the question arises of the biological father. In this case, the father must ""recognize"" his child at a civil registry office.

What does it mean to recognize a child?

Both the child and the mother are entitled under Swiss law to establishing the relationship of the child with the father, ie the right to know and record who the father is. In Switzerland, most paternity relationships are justified by voluntary recognition. However, if a father designated by the mother does not recognize the child, a paternity suit may occur. Then the Guardianship Authority will provide a child assistance / assistance service to establish a child's relationship with the father and a maintenance scheme.

Recognition of paternity creates a relationship between the father and the child. The father is dependent and he and the child are entitled to mutual, personal contact. The father receives an information and hearing right and the child is entitled to inherit the father. Recognition of a child also includes a maintenance contract, which must be approved by the guardianship authority.

Recognition of the child, whether before or after birth, does not change the surname of the child: the child of an unmarried mother will take the name of the mother. However, if the parents marry later, the child will automatically receive the family name, in most cases this is (still) the name of the father.

With the recognition of the child, the father does not automatically receive joint custody. By law, parental responsibility is restricted to the mother. In order to exercise custody on a joint basis, both mother and father must establish a maintenance and support contract, which is approved by the guardianship authority. No requirement for joint custody is that the parents live together.

Where and when can I ""recognize"" paternity?

When the child of a single mother is registered with the civil registry office, the guardianship authority is automatically informed. It usually waits around a month for a father to recognize paternity; otherwise, she uses child support to enforce his rights to ascertain the child's relationship with the father.

The father can report to the Civil Registry Office before the birth - or within one month after the birth of the child. Responsible for this is either the Civil Registry Office of the place of residence or the hometown of the father or the mother or the place of birth of the child.

Then it's personal to declare to the civil status officer that you're the child's father. Please bring the following documents with you:

  • Valid passport or ID
  • Personal ID card of the father and mother (available from the civil registry office of the home church), which is not older than 6 months
  • Residence certificate
  • Child birth certificate, if that Child born (available at the child's place of birth)
For foreign nationals, further documents may be required, depending on nationality Inquire directly from the Civil Registry Office. The paternity acknowledgment is registered in the recognition register.

What belongs in the maintenance contract?

If the parents are not married, then you must sign a maintenance contract together. This includes
  • maintenance payment of the father : The alimony can be staggered by age, because the older a child gets, the more money will be needed (clothing, education, hobbies, etc.). The amount of the payment depends on the income of the father as well as on his expenses (there are other children, etc.). As long as the parents live together, it is assumed that the father contributes enough to the community budget. Thus, the amount of the maintenance payment becomes important only when the parents no longer live together. From then on, the mother's father has to make the maintenance payment on a regular basis. If he is unable to do so, the mother can contact the guardianship authority, which may order an alimony advance if necessary. The father then has to repay the owed alimony of the authority as soon as it is possible.
  • Visiting Law : The maintenance contract also regulates the right of the father to visit, as the law stipulates that the child and the father are entitled to mutual, personal contact. As a rule, the father, when separated from the mother by his mother, can take his son or daughter home for a weekend twice a month and spend two weeks a year with him or her.
  • Custody : If the parents are not married, then the custody of the woman alone. In 2011, however, the Federal Council adopted a message to revise this law. This should be the common custody of the future rule. Until the change in the law becomes effective, custody must be regulated in the maintenance contract. This requires the consent of the mother.

For all points in the maintenance contract, the best interests of the child are paramount.

Recognition to the Court

If the man designated by the mother as a father does not recognize his paternity within one month of the birth of the child, the child receives assistance (see below).He will now file a paternity suit and, if necessary, a claim for maintenance on behalf of the child. Now the court will act: It will ask the mother designated by the man for a paternity test.

If the test is positive, the father has to pay all costs of this lawsuit. In addition, a maintenance contract is agreed.

If the husband is not the father ...

If a couple is married and the wife has a child during the marriage, it is assumed by law that the husband is the father. But that's not always the case. So that the husband does not automatically have to take over the father duties (maintenance costs) and rights, he must file a paternity suit in court. This lawsuit can be filed before birth - but no later than five years after birth. Later, a contestation of paternity is only possible if there are very important reasons.

A lawsuit to revoke paternity can only be filed by the husband, not by the mother. If the husband also wants to fulfill his father's duties with the knowledge that he is not the biological father, the mother can not prevent this.

Complaints could in this case only the child - until one year after reaching the age of majority. However, this action is only possible if the parents have been separated or divorced in the meantime.

Can the mother prevent the child's father from becoming known?

In principle, the right of the child to ascertain who is his father is protected in Switzerland. If an unmarried mother does not want the child's father to be known or for other reasons not to give the name of the grower, the civil registry office will inform the guardianship authority about the birth of the child. The latter appoints a child support officer who brings a lawsuit in the name of the child to the court.

The mother would be obliged to name her father. But if she does not want that, she can not be forced by threats or otherwise. If the mother refuses to announce the father's name, the assistance can be withdrawn after two years.

The child himself then has the opportunity to bring a paternity suit up to one year after his 18th birthday (of majority).

If the father is aware of his fatherhood, he can even recognize the child, even if the mother is against it.

Assistance tasks

The assistant is a legal representative of the child of a single mother. He / she is employed by the guardianship authority and works closely with the mother. His / her most important task is to ensure that paternity is established and the right to maintenance is enforced. Depending on the situation, she / he is also supportive and advisory to the mother.Parental custody remains with the mother.

As a mother, you have the right to suggest a person close to you as an adviser. However, this person must have the necessary legal expertise to run a paternity and maintenance process where appropriate. If you do not nominate anyone, the guardianship authority will delegate the assistance to a district guardian elected by the church.

A guardian, a guardian, is appointed by the guardianship authority if:

  • You, as a unmarried pregnant woman, do not want to
  • agree within a reasonable time on the child's paternity and / or maintenance
  • the mother designated as father by the mother denies paternity and thus does not want to recognize the child
  • if the mother does not want the child to be recognized
  • one or both parents are foreigners and therefore possibly related to complications could come with parental custody or child support.
The support usually ends with the identification of paternity and the conclusion of a maintenance contract. If this is not possible within two years, the support is usually canceled.

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