Updated : 3/2013
As a mother or father, you are responsible for your children’s upbringing, education and property, if they have any. You also have the right to represent them legally.
In all EU countries, a mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child, as does a married father. In most cases, parents exercise them jointly.
Unmarried fathers – the rules on whether an unmarried father has these rights and duties differ depending on the country.
Find out about parental responsibility rules in the country relevant to you:
The rules on custody and visiting rights are unique to each country. National laws determine who will have custody, whether custody will be single or shared, who will decide on the child's education, who will administer the child's property and similar issues.
However, all EU countries recognise that children have the right to a personal relationship and direct contact with both parents, even if the parents live in different countries.
In cases of divorce or separation, it is important to determine whether the children will live with one parent exclusively or with both alternately. You and your former partner may seek a mutual agreement on this.
If you cannot reach agreement, you will probably go to a court, which will decide – in the best interests of the child – on your custody rights, and in particular determine the child’s place of residence.
In situations involving more than one country (for example if the parents do not live in the same country), the courts responsible for handling cases of parental responsibility are those in the country where the child usually lives. Subject to certain conditions, you can agree with your spouse that the court ruling on your divorce can also rule on parental responsibility matters connected to your divorce.
Court decisions on parental responsibility made in an EU country are recognised in any other without any special procedure being required. Their enforcement is facilitated by a standard procedure.
Find out how decisions on parental responsibility taken in one EU country can be recognised and enforced in another
Central authorities responsible for parental responsibility can help with your specific case.
Exception – Denmark
EU rules on parental responsibility – for instance on jurisdiction, recognition or enforcement – do not apply to Denmark.Still need help?