Who is a parent?

The mother of a child is the woman who gives birth to the child. It is also true when the woman carries and gives birth to a child as a result of placing in her of an embryo or of sperm and eggs.

The woman who gave her embryo to be implanted in another woman can be registered as the mother of the child with the consent of the surrogate mother.

It follows, that it is the gestational rather than the genetic link which matters in relation to motherhood.

The law is different in relation to paternity. A man is the father of a child genetically related to him. Until very recently it was difficult to prove whether a man is a biological father of a child, and because the DNA testing remains expensive, the law has to rely on certain presumptions.

If a married woman gives birth to a child it is presumed that her husband is the father of the child. Also, the man who was married to the mother 300 days before the birth is considered the child's father. The man can prove otherwise in court. He, however, will not be allowed to do so if at the time of registration of the child as his the man knew that he is not his or her biological father.

The presumption does not apply to unmarried couples. To be registered as the child's father the man and the child's mother must submit a joint application to the state registration office (ZAGS). In the absence of such application the farther can be determined through the court hearings initiated by the man, the mother, the guardian or the child him- or herself when he or she comes of age.

The DNA testing is probably the most conclusive evidence of fatherhood. However, the court might refuse to order such tests where the child was born before March 1, 1996, the day when the new family code came into force.

A man or a woman can become a child's parent through adoption.