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since June 19, 2001



Divorce and Separation in Germany: Causes and Consequences

Endeavour of Explanation, Part 2 of 3

Presentation by Karin Jäckel, Dr. Phil.

Washington, D.C., June 7-9, 2001, at the Parental Abduction Conference;
Organized by P.A.R.E.N.T. International, at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Part 2/3

…continued from Part 1

Tragically, every third marriage in the countryside and every second in the cities of Germany ends in divorce.  In two of three marriages that end in divorce the wives file for divorce. Most often there is a new partner in the background.

Annually, about 160,000 children are involved.

Nobody has bothered to find out what the rate of separation is for common-law relationships, but it is well known that 40 percent of all children are born out of wedlock. Probably their parents will separate at least as often as married parents and much more easily and more inconsiderate against children and the no longer beloved partner as well.

And what about the relationships with different fathers for each child of the mother? Ever more fathers distrust the mothers and order a paternity test. And ever more mothers are discovered to be adulterers or disloyal to their darling-partners. The German lady-magazine "Brigitte" once pronounced that a wife is a wife when she had loved up 250 lovers. It seems that these lovers, too, are reading "Brigitte" and page by page come to know all of those sweet little secrets how women make the one pay for the joy the other one enjoys. You may think this tricky and perhaps it is, - but what about the fathers and most of all: what about the children? What about their right to know and to love each other? What about the right of the fathers to love and raise up their own children? What about the right of the children to be loved and raised by him? Are there no rights but the rights of a mother?

All in all, we have to add those betrayed children to the ones of divorced parents.

As the news releases by the Federal Ministry of Families show, annually, 80 percent of the 160,000 children of divorced parents will grow up with their mothers only or together with her new partner. These news releases by the German Federal Ministry of Families, the Federal Ministry of Justice, Youth-Welfare Services and the most important feminist self-help association in Germany, the so-called "Association of single educating mothers and fathers," and, last but not least, the rather small "Association for fathers' initiative" also prove, is that the vast majority of these children will lose their own father in the first year after their parents' separation.

A not yet exactly determined minority of these children has the good luck to live with parents who are willing and able to practice joint care and custody. Even if the new law of parent and child relations of 1998 wants parents to take joint care and custody, it is not usual, yet. The reason for that is that the law allows one of the parents to refuse. In that case the judge has to decide. In their opinion the "welfare of children" is not guaranteed if parents don't have the same aims. So most of the judges make conclusions to give the children to their mother and to give their father the duty to pay for them all.

About 15 percent of children after divorce will grow up with their fathers only and often lose their mothers. It seems important to me, that The Federal Bureau of Statistics includes in this rate those children who lost their mother by death, so that the number of children whose fathers have child custody and care after divorce cannot be determined exactly either but must be much smaller than 15 percent.

The rest of three to five or probably more percent of children after divorce are distributed among other custodial parties: grandmothers and other members of the extended family. Not to forget foster parents and nursing homes, adoptive parents and orphanages. They'll account for another one or two percent.

The children of unmarried mothers will live with their mothers. Their fathers must pay for them. Only if the mothers agree are the fathers allowed by law to see their children for a while.

If you ask me for a minimum visitation right, I must propose as a minimum the right of a parent in jail. He or she there has the right to see their children every four or even two weeks for some hours of supervised visitation. Normally a parent, even the ones who have joint custody, see their children not more often than once every two weeks for some hours on a single day without a night. The luckier ones are allowed to see them from 18:00 hours on Friday night until 18:00 hours or even sooner on Sunday night. If the mother doesn't refuse, the father will see the children for half of holidays, too, and perhaps on one day of each Christmas.

If the custodial parent refuses, the other parent has usually no chance to see the children, not even in cases the judge gave him or her the right so see the children on legally regulated times. Although there are some legal means of coercion, through penalties, to change the mother's behaviour, they are seldom successful and still more seldom used against a mother. If she says "No!" nearly every judge and their advisers will decide, that the mother knows what is best for the children and send the father into the wilderness.

To protest and to fight against the mother, the courts, the advisers of the judges, the Youth-Welfare Services, the lawyer of the mother and the lawyer of their own, the costs bankrupt the losers.  To be fair, I must say that is in almost all cases the fathers.

Less than 90 years ago the law-giver in old Germany determined that fathers must allow a mother to nurse her baby and to permit him to dictate her how long she had to nurse. If the father said No, the mother had to accept. In our time the law-giver favours the mothers as commanders and fathers have to obey.

Are things better now?

80 to 90 percent of children in divorce have to accept that one half of their parents will disappear. Each of these half-orphans by law will suffer forever. As one of the consequences of the divorce of their parents, they risk that they are three times more likely to get divorced in their own partnerships than children do who were raised by parents in life-long marriage.

Not long ago a well known lawyer in Munich said in an interview with the magazine "Focus," that Germany will become a people of invalids of divorce.

It seems that we already are, for when I ask women why they left their husband or their no longer beloved partner, I most often hear the same: "I felt that everything was too much for me. - I had no time left for myself. - My husband only put me to trouble. The time I save, since I no longer must wash his clothes and cook for him, makes me live much better without him. - The money he used to waste for himself took most of his wage. Now I get public assistance and have more money for my own than in the time of my marriage."

In view of the sum of my inquiries, I can say that money is in the vast majority of partnerships the real never-ending story of greatest concern. On the list of the top-ten grounds for divorce it is right at the top, directly followed by troubles relating to housework and to the upbringing of the kids.

With a view to binational partnerships, I must mention that their list of the top-ten contains the issue of cultural differences. Language, education and disciplinary methods, all this curious strangeness, which during the very first time of love seems so alluring, will at the very latest with the birth of the first child escalate to become a problem. If it is impossible to make a compromise, the longing for home and well-known lifestyle will overwhelm the strange-feeling partner, so that he or she one nice day swoops up the children and, up and away with them, back home.

Although the majority of the better studies prove that children will be most happy and healthy with mother and father, in Germany the rumour goes around that children need most of all their mother, and that the kind of father is best who earns a lot a money for his family, plays with the children to get the mothers time for themselves, but who keeps out of all questions relating to the upbringing of their children.

Inquiries of women, about what they want in the superman of their dreams, produce the vision that, first of all, he should be an impressive male and lover. Secondly, he should be successful, well imaged and earn enough money to support his family. Whether he will be a good father and love his children is less interesting.

Anyhow, mothers usually don’t trust fathers in case of problems with the kids. If they need any advice, they'll first of all talk to their best girlfriend, then to their own mother or to the child specialist or even to the teacher. Only if those don’ t know do mothers begin to think about asking the father, too.

After all, they are that kind of mother, mothers who think that fathers are only good for money and that their children neither really need nor love them.

In comparison, my inquiries of fathers determined that the great majority absolutely trust the mothers of their children. Most of them believe it to be true that above all children need their mothers, more than they need their fathers.

Even in the beginnings of separation and in the first months of living alone, most fathers think that the mothers never would be so cruel as to take the children away or that they would ever forbid the fathers to visit them.

Also, fathers usually believe the mothers' promises to let them meet the children at any time. Therefore most of them agree that the mothers will get the children and the sole right to decide where and how they live.

In most separations fathers only notice that they are definitely losing their children, when they leave their family home and the mothers prefer a new lover. Then the father generally must accept that the mother deliberately cut the bond between father and child to get rid of him, and to enjoy her new freedom without having to worry about a guilty conscience.

It would not be honest now to paint a picture of that wonder of genesis, named father. In fact, fathers seldom get the chance to dominate in cases of child care and custody. But give them the legal possibility or the illegal chance to show the mother who is the man in the house, - and proportionally there are as many fathers as mothers who in comparable situations stomp on the rights of their children.

Fathers or mothers notice what happened to them and the children, at the very latest, when the point at issue is reached, divorce. And with that the often appallingly very bad role that family courts, family judges, staff of the Youth Welfare Offices, psychological experts and consultants will play, begins as well. That is as true for children of binational parents as well as of national parents!

It is not without cause that Youth Welfare Offices in Germany are discredited as "kidnapping-offices" or "mother-offices". And not without cause did the French President Jacques Chirac call German family law "the law of the jungle".

Today we meet to discuss kidnapping by parents. Unfortunately, Germany is the leader of the pack with that. Although having signed the Hague Convention against kidnapping of children, it usually has not yet come around to ratify it. Therefore it seems that a shocking great number of German family judges only know the one legal chance to circumvent the orders for return by using the loophole of paragraph 13b.

Ladies and gentlemen, you surely know that 13b rules the term treasured above all by German judges, namely the "welfare of children".

Exactly, it prohibits the return of children to where they had been kidnapped from, if the "welfare of a child" could be in danger. Only in this case, a kidnapped child has to stay in Germany. It should not take any longer than a few weeks to find out what the facts are and needs no negotiation.

In Germany things are different. Against the orders of the Hague Convention, most of the judges of family law start the court hearing, to negotiate the welfare and custody of the child. And as usual, they need an expert opinion. And with that, time goes by.

I know a huge number of native parents in Germany who waited for more than a year for the psychological expert's opinion that the judge had ordered. A second year would go by after that before the judge finally ruled on the findings. After that, the case was given to the next higher court, where the process ran for a third year or longer. And in all this time, the father and his child never had a single chance to meet, because the mother denied access to the child – and the judges washed their hands in innocence, because they gave their responsibility to the expert, and the expert they preferred had so much to do that he wasn't able to finish more quickly.

In the meanwhile the distance between children and father grows ever larger. In most of the cases they will never meet again or perhaps only when the childhood is over. Guilt of the judges? No, didn't they do their very best?

Some of them even gave the fathers good advice and told them to make new children with another mother or to let a psychologist therapy their harms away.

In just the same way, binational parents and children most often have to wait a year and more for a court decision. Time enough to settle the child in its new home with the kidnapping mother or father. And also time enough for the experts to find out that meanwhile the kidnapped child has forgotten the lost father or mother or even fears to go back to the absent parent. Logically, now that child’s welfare can only be found in Germany.

I know that foreign countries and nations become suspicious that the old Nazi-thinking still must be alive in Germany and will guide the hands of nationalistic thinking judges, if they are stealing the foreign part of parents away from binational children.

For example, the essay of Maureen Dabbagh about "Lebensborn" contains a lot of interesting thoughts and conclusions. I cannot deny it. Surely it would be very worthwhile to order a deeply thorough examination and research of the case.

As Maureen and I discussed, no German in general and no professional working in the family courts or social services would agree, that the origins of our family law and the associated programs are derived from the Nazi-era. And none would agree either that therefore the education of law-students and jurists in every profession is based on the ideas of that period in German history.

Least of all would you find anyone in the courts or social services who ever would confess that his or her private motivation stems from Nazi-influences.

The vast majority of German people reject the Nazi-ideals. And I’m quite sure that there is not a nation in the world that educated its children more strongly during the past 50 years and more against patriotism and their own nationality than Germany did and does. And the only and one reason for that is the Nazi-past and the aim to give our young people an education for a way of life that is the furthest possible distance removed from that past with all the proud nationalistic ideas of our parents and grandparents and elder generations.

The result of that education is that the vast majority of Germans feel distant to their own nationality, and that a small minority begins to protest against that with the false help from some eternal-yesterday-ones and from underground-terrorists like the RAF ( Red Army Fraction), whose attempted assassinations, kidnappings and attempted murder against the leading heads of the government, courts and business shocked Germany some years ago.

No question, the terrorist actions of these minority of so called Neo-Nazis must be stopped. And there are great efforts to do. But all the same, the very great majority of Germans can’t even sing the first verse of our own national anthem – as you might see for example at large sport events. It is well known from history that Germans like to throw the baby away with the bath water.

But - if the impression is possible to foreign countries, and even growing, that German family law could be based on nationalistic ideas and that court-decisions could be influenced by the "Lebensborn"-idea, then it is high noon to order an international inquiry and to find out all about it. Then, in the name of our children, we have to determine, as soon as possible, what the problem is and what is feeding it.

Let's use this network of people present here today to start. What I can do to help will be done.

But all the same, I for myself must confess that — with my knowledge of today — I cannot believe it is true.

My experiences with life in Germany are quite the opposite, namely that the results of German family court decisions are not based on nationalistic old Nazi-influences and ideas but are based on socialistic ones.

Therefore the problems of parents and children who ever had the bad luck to have to bow under the law and order of family courts are all the very same – for binationals as well as for nationals.

And these problems are not the result of Nazi-ideas and the aim to make foreign children German.

No, they are definitely the result of the drastic turning-away our post-war generation from the Nazi-German past by turning at the same time towards the socialistic dreams of dissolved sovereignty of families. Instead of focusing families in the midst of life as Nazi-Germany did, the post-war generation embraced the socialistic ideology of liberating people from the chains and duties of family and to let children be raised by an education-industry instead of by their own parents.

Mix the modern feministic ideas, that the one and only female self-realization can only be had through self-earned money, with the prayer-wheel-like repeated status of women as victims of male violence, - mix it further with the Christian idea of overprotecting mothers and women by the grace of Mary, Mother of God, - and put on all of that, like the icing on the cake, the false gallantry of men to give all through materializing that overprotection, - and you will have the basis for most of the decisions in German family courts.

Let me explain my theory in more detail.

The socially important beginning of the abolition of society's concern for families and children, for traditional marriages as well, just as the socially important beginning of free love without responsibility for the consequences to children, - all that is to be found in the so-called "cultural revolution of the 68ers," undertaken by students and their striking followers from the traditionally red-minded, working classes.[*] That movement, perhaps noticed by few in foreign nations, effectively changed the traditions of the parents’ generations to a new, to a young and ostensibly better way of no longer brown or black but red thinking, that has for 30 and more years established itself in Germany.

Today you'll find the leading heads of that "revolution" in the leading class of Germany. Joschka Fischer, Gerhard Schröder, Jürgen Trittin, Ulla Schmidt – they and most of all politicians in the age group of the late fifties were activists of that revolution or at least sympathizers. You'll find their colleagues all over, in business and, naturally, in the courts, too.

Relating to the aspects of families, the traditionally red women's liberation became fulfilled with new life and changed to the feminist liberation. Their aim was and is to radically change the familiar situation of housewives and mothers, to finally set them free from children and child-raising, and to grant them the better alternative of jobs and career.

Therefore not Hitler and the old Nazi-hero-cult, but, for example, Simone de Beauvoir and Friedrich Engels are the spiritual leaders of a huge number of 68ers, who meanwhile are mighty men and women in politics and business, sciences and the media-landscape.

If you read the phrases of Friedrich Engels about the wonder of the "industrial family," you will look at German family politics and the practice of German family law.

I'll now quote a mixture of my own words and some exact phrases by Engels:

. . .that the freedom of women results from having all of the female sex work in public jobs and from the disposal of the attributes of the single-family as an economic union of the society, so that all privacy of houses must change into a social industry.

After liberating women from family-works, the supplying and the upbringing of children will become to a public affair, so that society will provide for and educate all children in the same way.

From this time on, no women must have any fear to become pregnant. They finally will be able to dedicate [themselves] to a beloved man, without any moral or economic handicaps.

Even if love ends, nobody must fear any consequences, because a divorce without any question of responsibility is guaranteed and will be a "benefit" for male and female and for the whole society...

Let us see which part of these dreams are already realized in Germany.

Presently more than half of all women between 15 and 64 are in public jobs.

To that must be added those who are in educational advancement and soon will get a job. By the way, for some years now, more girls than boys have been studying at the universities. And the government’s targeted protection of women in jobs results in growing success. All in all, women are on the advance.

If we can trust what Matthias Horx, one of the most reputable demographers in Europe, tells us, the male population is in the loser’s position. I cannot call it a prophecy, because he is showing facts. But all the same it contains a horrible prediction, when Horx writes that within 20 to 30 years the most important problem facing women will be the crowd of men without jobs and families, lying drunken in the gutter and filling the jails. - Quite the scenery we know from the Russia of today and the thoughts of Michael Gorbachev, published in his book about "Perestroika" in 1987. The prediction of Horx has its witness in him. Who, if not Gorbachev, must know it to be true, when he lets us know, that the worst mistake a society can make is to destroy its families by pushing all women into jobs, by making females masculine and by raising children by daycare and strangers instead by their own parents.

But Gorbachev and his knowledge made inroads in Germany, and the Federal Family Office in Berlin let me know, its first order of priorities is not families, not children, not mothers, not fathers – no, it has still made it its first priority to protect and empower "young, gainfully employed women" to get more and better jobs and professional childcare-institutions and "to remove male privileges."

To move and enable mothers to get a public job without any bad conscience about their children, my generation — and much more intensively the younger ones — are taught by feminists that children who are being brought up by their own parents are overprotected and less fit in all social aspects, and that every third child will become a victim of its father’s violence or sexual abuse.

Through a huge poster-campaign of the federal family office in Berlin, the public is informed that girls suffer helplessly under violence, but that boys who are victims of violence will surely become perpetrators, too.

The quintessence of the information is that mothers who don’t get a public job are derogated as being ignorant, as being faulty for treating their children with doting love, and that fathers must nearly automatically be suspected of violence or at least being possessed with the willingness to use it.

Continued in part 3…

Translater's Note: Free love, as the early communists called it, is today called sexual freedom.  See The Russian Effort to Abolish Marriage, The Atlantic Monthly, July 1926 -WHS
(See also a more exhaustive history of the evolution and destructive social impact of Soviet divorce laws)

Index to Karin Jaeckel's Web pages at Fathers for Life (English)

Karin Jaeckel's Website (German)

Posted June 2001
2001 07 26 (added reference to Free Love)