Child interview in Germany
In Germany whether or not a child can talk to the judge or a guardian ad litem depends upon the particular case and is always at the discretion of the judge hearing the case. According to Section 159 of the Act on Proceedings in Family Matters and in Matters of Noncontentious Jurisdiction the court has to conduct an in-person hearing with the child in order to get a personal impression of the child. However, if there are severe reasons for an exception or the child is incapable to express his or her will or his/her will is irrelevant, the court can refrain from hearing the child. In practice, in child abduction cases, the judges have child intervieuws with very young children, even children of 3 years old.
The child is heard by the judge on that day and immediately before the hearing. German family courts generally dispose of appropriate rooms with toys and a child-friendly atmosphere, and family judges are hearing children on a regular basis. They will often also have received training by child psychologists. In return proceedings the appointment of a guardian ad litem is common practice in Germany.
According to Art. 21 and Art. 26 of the Brussels II b Regulation (EU 2019/1111) which will enter into force as from the first of August 2022, the courts of the Member States shall provide the child who is capable of forming his or her own views with an opportunity to express his or her views.
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