Unusual: Human Rights Court protects rights of out-of-wedlock fathers

There are not often occasions to express agreement to the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, but here is one: in the case of Kuppinger v. Germany the Court has decided that a father’s right to have contact with his child born out of wedlock must not be rendered nugatory by the mother’s unwillingness to obey to the court order that fixes the date and duration of those contacts. Such court orders must be enforced swiftly and, if need be, through appropriate and dissuasive sanctions.

Unusual for the ECtHR, the Court has placed the term “family life” into the right context: the relationship between a child and its (natural) parent…It has often been observed that in the case of divorce or when a child is born out of wedlock, law courts often discriminate against fathers. In the case at hand the applicant had been granted the right to see his son on a regular basis, but the mother systematically failed to comply with the court order. When finally  the court did issue a financial sanction against the mother, it was merely 300 Euro – an amount that could hardly be expected to have any coercive effect.

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