Women may have to reveal names of biological fathers of their kids

Women in Germany could be forced to reveal the names of the biological fathers of their children under a proposed new law.

Published: 30th August 2016 07:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th August 2016 07:47 AM   |  A+A-

BERLIN: Women in Germany could be forced to reveal the names of the biological fathers of their children under a proposed new law.

The controversial measure will force women to divulge acts of adultery or infidelity during a relationship.

It has already been dubbed the "Cuckoo Kids' Law" by the German press, after the German phrase for children concieved in adultery, Kuckuckskindern -an approximate equivalent of "milkmen's kids" in English. Heiko Maas, the justice minister, said the law, which will be presented to Angela Merkel's cabinet tomorrow, would make it easier to resolve who was responsible for paying child support.

Women will be obliged to name "the man who was present at the moment of conception" on request of a partner who is paying child support, according to a draft released by the justice ministry.

"We need to offer more legal protection for 'sham fathers' to seek recourse," Mr Maas said. "The mother should only have the right to remain silent when there are serious reasons for her not to name the biological father."

It would be up to the courts to decide if a woman's reasons for not divulging the identity of the father were good enough, he said.

The draft law says it would only be permissible to remain silent in cases where it would be "unconscionable" to do otherwise.

It is not clear what penalties a woman could face for refusing to kiss and tell.

The proposed legislation is likely to prove controversial in Germany, a country where privacy is generally so highly guarded the newspapers do not name convicted criminals without their permission.

Under German law, so-called "sham fathers" can reclaim child maintenance from the biological fathers of their partners' children for up to two years.

The background to the new law is a case in 2015 in which the country's highest court called on the government to strengthen the rights of "sham fathers".

In that case, a man sued his wife after she admitted he might not be the biological father of their child. The couple had married when she was pregnant.

He took her to court to make her reveal the name of her former lover, but she successfully appealed to the constitutional court, which ruled that there was no law under which she was obliged to divulge that information.

In their ruling, the judges said that new legislation on the issue would be welcome.

Studies differ on the number of children who grow up believing the wrong man is their biological father - with estimates varying from fewer than two per cent to as many as 10 per cent.

In April, Germany's courts ruled that children cannot force men they suspect of being their biological fathers to undergo a DNA test.

They can only oblige their legal fathers to undergo testing.


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