Family structure exploited for social and financial benefits in Germany


Central Europe


A family has a meal at a camp set up by migrants. German men accept paternity to migrant children to give them and their mother social benefits. Image not related to article. Photo AFP, Leonid Shcheglov

Several German men acknowledge paternity to a child that is not theirs. By doing so, they grant foreign women and their children access to residence permits and social benefits.

The men are given money in cash for recognising foreign children that are not theirs and whom they might barely know, Neue Zürcher Zeitung reports. Recognising a child does not have any obligations for him, except for the paperwork it costs to establish a paternity link between him and the child.


As a result, the child, its mother and potential siblings gain access to social benefits from the German government. Indirectly, the German taxpayer bears the brunt of these costs. Tobias M., an employee of the social authority of a German city, tells Neue Zürcher Zeitung that abuse of the family structure to gain benefits costs the German authorities of his town only already five million euros a year.

Remarkable is that recognising paternity to a foreign child for social benefits only is not even illegal, the newspaper writes. The German Civil Code specifies that the father of the child is the man who recognises paternity. That is the only requirement for someone to become the father of a child.


Despite the social benefits the mothers and children in question receive, migrant families that have entered the social system by abusing paternity still find themselves in poverty, Tobias M. says. “Many people are crammed into rubbish, children are uncared for, and drugs and alcohol are openly consumed. The children do not go to school”, he says.

Often the women and children are Sinti and Roma from the Balkans. Also, Vietnamese in Berlin and African women in Bremen use paternity to get a residence permit in Germany.


The misuse of paternity has been going on for two decades already, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes. The German government has not taken any measures against it up till now. Last summer, however, the Bavarian interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, called the situation “highly unsatisfactory” and pleaded for reform of paternity acknowledgements.



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