The right of access in times of Corona

Can I suspend the right of access?

In times of Corona, many separated parents ask themselves questions about access rights. Some arguing parents use the current situation as a joker to deny access rights.

The youth welfare offices appeal to the parents’ reason and remind them that children need their usual everyday structures. The closed daycare centers and schools put the children in a completely new and unfamiliar situation. Sticking with the usual agreement brings some stability in this troubled circonstances.

The mere fear of endangering the child does not constitute a reason to refuse the other parent his right of access. Likewise, no medical certificate can be requested from the other parent.

In contrast, the right of access can be temporarily suspended if

  • the person authorized to access or a person living in his household is infected,
  • he had long contact with an infected person,
  • he shows symptoms,
  • the child is ill or
  • the child is under quarantine at home, which was ordered in accordance to § 30 of the German Infection Protection Law (Infektionsschutzgesetz)

If a parent voluntary begins quarantine because he belongs to a high risk group, or because he looks after his parents in his household, you need to differentiate. If he waives his right of access for some time for the just mentioned reason, the other parent cannot enforce the right of access (or duty of access). On the other hand, this is not the reason for keeping the child “captive” in his household.
A conceivable solution to the problem would be to temporarily move the child to the other parent’s household. It should be noted that even in times of Corona, the custodial parent may not arbitrarily disregard a judicial access regulation. If necessary, he should request a change to this regulation by the court.

Facetime and Skype offer new ways to keep in touch. These are not only useful but also highly desirable (Dr. Wolfram Viefhues, author of numerous articles on family law and electronic legal transactions).

But what about parents living in different countries as soon as the borders are closed?

If the borders are closed, the commuter traffic and the goods traffic normally remains authorized. Every German citizen, anyone who has his place of residence in Germany or who has a right of residence is authorised to enter the German territory. Others must provide valid reasons as well as the evidence. Good reasons usually include serious illnesses or deaths, but not visiting children, partners or family members. The border police decide on a case-by-case basis whether there is a valid reason or not.

In the case of parents with foreign nationalities who live in different countries, it will become difficult to exercise the right of access.

But as soon as the situation in Germany eases again, the suspended contacts should be made up for.


Katharina Kutter

As an attorney for family and inheritance law and have specialised in advising companies and high net worth individuals in the areas of asset succession, asset division, tax law and family law retirement planning – with a particular focus on cross-border matters. 

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