Role of #GermanYouthWelfareOffice in cross-border family disputes

| December 3, 2018

MEPs sound the alarm over the controversial role of the German Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt), denounced in a large number of petitions by non-German parents.

Following the plenary debate on 15 November, MEPs approved a resolution highlighting the very large number of petitions received by the European Parliament from non-German parents over the past 10 years regarding the role of the German Youth Welfare Office. The petitioners repeatedly denounce alleged discrimination and arbitrary measures taken against them in cross-border family disputes involving children, as well as insufficient counselling and legal support provided by their national authorities.

Parliament calls for the rights of children of bi-national couples to be safeguarded better to preserve their identity, including their family relations.

Give clear information and abide by judgements

MEPs express concern over cases raised by petitioners regarding deadlines too short to meet and documents not being provided in the language of the non-German parent and stress that at every stage of proceedings, German authorities must provide complete and clear information in a language the non-German parent fully understands.

While national authorities are obliged to recognize and enforce judgements delivered in another member state in child-related cases, MEPs are worried German authorities allegedly systematically dismiss judicial decisions taken in other member states. In order to increase trust between member states, the text recommends exchange of good practices between social services officials, improved judicial and administrative cooperation and efficient communication between authorities.

The text underlines that increased mobility within the EU has led to a growing number of cross-border disputes on parental responsibility and child custody. It is therefore important that the European Commission plays an active role in ensuring fair, non-discriminatory practices towards parents in cross-border child custody cases throughout the European Union.

The resolution was approved by 307 votes to 211, with 112 abstentions.

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