The FAMILY COURT ASSISTANCE SERVICE (FGH) supports the guardianship courts with issues involving custody and rights of access.
The employees of the family and juvenile court assistance service (social workers, psychologists, scientists and experts in education) help the courts to reach decisions in proceedings relating to custody and access rights.
This service acts solely at the order of the court. Staff are authorised to question persons who are in a position to furnish information about the circumstances in which a child lives and to establish contact with the child or adolescent.
A „clearing“ process is employed to try and discover options and ways of coming to an amicable agreement to find a mutually agreeable solution to contentious issues. Here the parties involved in the court proceedings – the mother, father, grandparents, foster parents, etc. – are informed about the specific needs of the child in the event of a separation and are simultaneously supported in their efforts to identify a joint solution that will ensure the welfare of the child.
Should this prove to be impossible, the court will be assisted in its decision by means of an expert opinion drawn up by the family court assistance service.
The family court assistance service can undertake concrete investigations on behalf of the court to provide the judge with a clearer picture of the problems under debate. The court can for example ask the family court assistance service to speak to the child’s nursery workers or teachers, to clarify the situation at home or to observe handover of the child between the parties at the weekend.
Where it is not possible to find a solution that is mutually agreeable to both parents and where nor is such a solution to be expected, the family court assistance service can be asked to draw up an expert opinion. Various discussions will be held with all parties concerned in the context of these investigations, as well as enquiries made of certain institutions, home visits paid, other personal interactions observed or diagnostic measures taken which allow a specialist assessment of the facts and circumstances to be made in each case.
Another task performed by the family court assistance service is visit mediation: This involves arranging the specific exercising of access rights to the child with the relevant parties and mediating in the event of conflicts. The employees of the family court assistance service can for example attend when a child is handed over and may discuss with the parties concerned how to improve such contact to better take account of the child’s needs.
Lastly, the staff employed by this service report back to the presiding judge by means of a written document and/or verbally during the court proceedings.
The work of the family court assistance service revolves around the needs of the child in terms of development.
PLEASE NOTE: The family court assistance service does not provide advice.