Cuckoo child

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Cuckoo child describes a child whose father is not his biological father because the mother fathered him with another man and let the child and his social father believe that they are blood relatives . The term is derived from the cuckoo bird , which lays its eggs in foreign nests ( brood parasitism ). Between the child and his apparent father is no legal relationship , in the case of marriage , only one -Law : The child is a stepchild of the husband. If the mother is not married to the producer and withholds her knowledge of the actual biological descent from the fictitious father - and usually also from the child - then there is a legal case of falsification of civil status.

The colloquial derogatory term as a cuckoo child includes a critique of the mother, her (married) partners sired with another man child imputes ; the child concerned can find this term stigmatizing .


According to a British study of relationship examinations carried out between 1950 and 2004, the median rate of so-called "paternity discrepancies" is 3.7 percent.

region Subjects Sample size Cuckoo children (%) method Bias source
UK Southern English families 2578 3.7 Blood and other markers unknown Edwards 1957
United States Undisputed paternity tests 67 18.0 Blood and other markers unknown Sussman and Schatkin 1957
United States Michigan, whites 1417 1.4 Blood and other markers unknown Schacht and Gershowitz 1963
United States Michigan, blacks 523 10.1 Blood and other markers unknown Schacht and Gershowitz 1963
United States California, whites 6960 2.7 Blood and other markers unknown Peritz and Rus 1972
South America Yanomama Indians 132 9.0 Blood and other markers unknown Neel and Weiss 1975
United States Hawaiians 2839 2.3 Blood and other markers Non-participation (-) Ashton 1980
New Zealand Tokelau (Polynesians) 1983 4.0 Blood and other markers unknown Lathrop et al 1983
Mexico New births 217 2.9 Blood and other markers unknown Peñaloza 1986
UK Cystic fibrosis screening 521 1.4 DNA tests Non-participation (-) Brock and Shrimpton 1991
France Genetic screening (various) 362 2.8 DNA tests Non-participation (-) Le Roux et al 1992
Canada Hemophilia B screening 25th 4.0 DNA tests Non-participation (-) Poon et al 1993
Switzerland Cystic fibrosis / bone marrow screening 1607 0.8 Various Methods Non-participation (-) Sasse et al 1994
Mexico Nuevo Leon newborns 396 11.8 Blood and other markers unknown Cerda-Flores et al 1999
UK Multiple sclerosis screening 744 1.6 DNA tests Non-participation (-) Chataway et al 1999
UK Y vs Name Matching (Sykes Genealogy) 48 1.3 DNA tests Founding father postulates (+) Sykes and Irven 2000
UK Y vs Name Matching (Attenborough Genealogy) 1 1.29-3.39 DNA tests Founding father postulates (+) King and Jobling 2009
UK Y vs Name Matching (Haythornthwaite Genealogy) 1 2.07-4.54 DNA tests Founding father postulates (+) King and Jobling 2009
UK Y vs name matching (Herrick genealogy) 1 1.00-2.47 DNA tests Founding father postulates (+) King and Jobling 2009
UK Y vs name matching (stribling genealogy) 1 1.00-2.87 DNA tests Founding father postulates (+) King and Jobling 2009
UK Y vs Name Matching (Swindlehurst Genealogy) 1 1.04-2.76 DNA tests Founding father postulates (+) King and Jobling 2009
Iraq Immigration tests (Kurds) <24097 1.6 DNA tests unknown Forster et al 2015
Nigeria Immigration tests <24097 8.3 DNA tests unknown Forster et al 2015

According to a meta-analysis of 67 studies, the rate of men who raise a cuckoo child is almost 2 percent. In the individual studies, the rates are between 0.4 percent and almost 12 percent. According to the studies, men who doubt rightly do so in 15 to 50 percent of cases.


Contestation of paternity and the husband's presumption of paternity repeatedly lead to difficulties.

Apparent fathers of cuckoo children can presumably compel biological fathers to establish paternity by means of parentage reports and claim the maintenance paid by them.

This was decided by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) on April 18, 2008, thereby closing a loophole in the law that had arisen during the reform of the Assistance Act of 1998. During this time, pseudo-fathers were "in fact at the mercy of the child's mother and the true father".

In the current case, a court had finally established that the plaintiff is not the father of three children born between 1992 and 1995 by his wife, who has since been divorced from him. Because the plaintiff is convinced that the new partner, with whom his ex-wife has lived since the separation , is the father of the children, he wanted to sue this man for his long-term support. But the ex-wife and her new partner refused to participate in an ancestry report .

Before the reform of 1998, the youth welfare office initiated the determination of paternity in such cases because of the interests of the children even without the mother's consent. This so-called official guardianship was then abolished, according to the BGH, in order to strengthen the “personal responsibility” of mothers. The BGH has now allowed fictitious fathers to exceptionally force suspected biological fathers to take a paternity test in such cases.

A pseudo father can request information about the biological father from the mother of the child . The mother's right to protection of her privacy can outweigh the fictitious father's right to effective legal protection. In the case decided by the Federal Court of Justice, a paternity test revealed that a man had falsely recognized paternity and paid alimony; he wanted to know the name of the biological father in order to reclaim his maintenance. According to a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court on February 24, 2015, the mother's private and intimate sphere can also have a higher legal status than the false father's right to information.

If a woman has lied to her husband about his paternity, this can lead to a reduction in or cancellation of her maintenance after a divorce. This is especially true if the man has neglected his professional development for years because of his supposed biological child.


In Austria, the misappropriation of a child is a criminal offense ( official offense ) which expires three years after birth - or if the behavior threatened with punishment ceases. Midwives are obliged to report a criminal offense if they have justified suspicion of child misappropriation.

The limitation period of 2 years, within which the putative father can request an application for the determination of non-paternity , begins from the time at which he has justified doubts about his paternity ( § 158 ABGB ).

According to the Constitutional Court , citing the European Court of Justice, a biological father who claims to have never had contact with the child does not have the right to biological paternity determination if - as in the specific case through marriage before the child is born - a legal father already has family contact to the child lives.


In the case of artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization, sperm, but in the second case also egg cells, can be exchanged in an institution of your choice. In December 2016, the suspicion arose that egg cells from 26 mothers had been mixed up due to a procedural error in a Dutch fertility clinic and that women were therefore carrying children from biologically different mothers.

Children can be swapped in maternity wards in hospitals. At least one case in Graz seems plausible: In the course of a blood test, it was found by chance in the case of the 20-year-old daughter that she cannot be the daughter of the mother with whom she grew up. Only a minority responded to the hospital's call to the station's mothers, who were also giving birth at the time, for DNA tests. A biological mother for the cuckoo daughter could not be found.

Culture and religion

Anthropologists at the University of Michigan assume that the five world religions - Buddhism , Christianity , Hinduism , Islam , Judaism - have similar regulations on restricting female sexual behavior in order to ensure paternity. They examined 1706 father-son pairs in the patrilineal African people of the Dogon (around 350,000 members), in which four religions coexist: Protestants , Catholics , Muslims and traditional religion , and found a total of 31 cuckoo children.

Personal approach to the topic of "cuckoo child"

In August 2014, Dirk Roßmann , the founder and managing director of the owner-run drugstore chain Rossmann , made public that he is a cuckoo child : In the news magazine Focus he described in the full-page article "The Lie of My Childhood" that Bernhard Roßmann (1910-1958) , Husband of his biological mother Hilde geb. Wilkens, was merely his legal and social father. According to his own account, on his 16th birthday in 1963, Dirk Roßmann learned from his mother that his biological father was the neighbor Theodor Kayser (1899–1967), son of a German manufacturer from Warsaw and godfather of his older brother: " So I spent my childhood surrounded by the unspoken, the lies. "

See also


  • Hildegard Haas, Claus Waldenmaier: The cuckoo factor. Refined women? Hiding children? Doubting fathers? Gennethos, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-938321-00-8 .
  • Simone Schmollack: cuckoo children, cuckoo parents: mothers, fathers and children break their silence paperback . Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-89602-817-4 .
  • Kerstin Aust: The cuckoo child and its three parents: a critical appraisal of the existing legal situation with suggestions for rules that are fair to interests under comparative law aspects from the ECHR area. (= Studies on German and international family and inheritance law. ) Volume 24. PL Acadamic Research , Frankfurt am Main 2015, ISBN 978-3-631-66606-7 . (also dissertation at the University of Konstanz 2015)



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Sonja Orel: Secret paternity tests. Prospects for a reform of paternity examination options. Utz, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-8316-0698-6 , p. 11.
  2. Mark Bellis: A testing time for fathers - More than one in 25 dads could unknowingly be raising another man's child. (No longer available online.) Liverpool John Moores University , August 31, 2005, archived from the original on September 20, 2008 ; accessed on February 12, 2014 .
  3. ^ JH Edwards: A critical examination of the reputed primary influence of ABO phenotype on fertility and sex ratio. In: Br J Prev Soc Med. 11, 1957, pp. 87-89.
  4. LN Sussman, SB Schatkin: Blood-grouping tests in undisputed paternity proceedings. In: JAMA. 164, 1957, pp. 249-250.
  5. a b L. E. Schacht, H. Gershowitz: Frequency of extra-marital children as determined by blood groups. In: L. Gedda (Ed.): Proceedings of the Second International Congress on Human Genetics . G Mendel, Rome 1963, pp. 894-897.
  6. ^ E. Peritz, PF Rust: On the estimation of the nonpaternity rate using more than one blood-group system. In: Am J Hum Genet. 24, 1972, pp. 46-53.
  7. ^ JV Neel, KM Weiss: The genetic structure of a tribal population, the Yanomama Indians. In: Am J Phys Anthrop. 42, 1975, pp. 25-52.
  8. ^ GC Ashton: Mismatches in genetic markers in a large family study. In: Am J Hum Genet. 32, 1980, pp. 601-613.
  9. GM Lathrop, AB Hooper, JW Huntsman et al: Evaluating pedigree data. I. The estimation of pedigree error in the presence of marker mistyping. In: Am J Hum Genet. 35, 1983, pp. 241-262.
  10. ^ R. Peñaloza, C. Núñez, A. Silvia et al .: Frequency of illegitimacy in a sample of the Mexican population. In: La Rev Invest Clin. (Méx) 38, 1986, pp. 287-291.
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  13. M. Poon, S. Anand, BM Fraser et al: Hemophilia B carrier determination based on family-specific mutation detection by DNA single-strand conformation analysis. In: J Lab Clin Med. 122, 1993, pp. 55-63.
  14. G. Sasse, H. Müller, R. Chakraborty et al .: Estimating the frequency of nonpaternity in Switzerland. In: Hum Hered. 44, 1994, pp. 337-343.
  15. RM Cerda-Flores, SA Barton, LF Marty-Gonzalez et al .: Estimation of nonpaternity in the Mexican population of Nuevo Leon: a validation study with blood group markers. In: Am J Phys Anthropol. 109, 1999, pp. 281-293.
  16. J. Chataway, S. Sawser, R. Feakes et al.: A screen of candidates from peaks of linkage: evidence for the involvement of myeloperoxidase in multiple sclerosis. In: J Neuroimmunol. 98, 1999, pp. 208-213.
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  18. a b c d e T. E. King, MA Jobling: Founders, drift, and infidelity: the relationship between Y chromosome diversity and patrilineal surnames . In: Mol Biol Evol. 26, 2009, pp. 1093-1102.
  19. ^ A b P. Forster, C. Hohoff, B. Dunkelmann, M. Schürenkamp, ​​H. Pfeiffer, F. Neuhuber, B. Brinkmann: Elevated germline mutation rate in teenage fathers. In: Proc Biol Sci. 282, 2015, p. 20142898.
  20. a b c Book review: Of hidden children and doubting fathers. In: Doctors newspaper . November 2, 2004, accessed on February 12, 2014 (on Hildegard Haas, Claus Waldenmaier: The cuckoo factor. Refined women? Concealed children? Doubting fathers? Munich 2004): "Experts estimate that every tenth child in Germany is a" cuckoo child " . "
  21. Kermyt G. Anderson: How Well Does Paternity Confidence Match Actual Paternity? Evidence from Worldwide Nonpaternity Rates. In: Current Anthropology Volume 48, No. 3, June 2006, pp. 513-520. ( PDF file; 101 kB ( Memento of the original from December 31, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this note. ), Quoted in : Axel Meyer: Doubtful fatherhood: cuckoo children more often than expected. In: . January 7, 2010, accessed February 12, 2014 . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  22. Helmut Kerscher: Trial of "cuckoo children": the cuckoo has to pay. In: Sü . May 17, 2010, accessed February 12, 2014 .
  23. Federal Court of Justice (BGH): Judgment of November 9, 2011. Az. XII ZR 136/09 ( PDF file; 147 kB ).
  24. ^ Federal Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany: legal sentence - 1 BvR 472/14 -. February 24, 2015, accessed February 6, 2016 .
  25. Federal Court of Justice (ed.): Judgment of the XII. Civil Senate - XII ZR 137/09 . Karlsruhe February 15, 2012 ( (online) ).
  26. ^ Message: BGH on cuckoo children: The mother's lie can cost her maintenance. In: Spiegel Online . April 3, 2012, accessed on February 12, 2014 (report on bogus paternity in connection with a judgment of the Federal Court of Justice ).
  27. ^ Legal information system of the Republic of Austria : § 200. StGB , Federal Law Gazette No. 60, 1974 (deportation of a child).
  28. Legal information system of the Republic of Austria: Section 57 (3) StGB, as amended by Federal Law Gazette No. 762, 1996 (limitation period).
  29. Legal information system of the Republic of Austria: Section 6, Paragraph 5. Midwifery Act, Federal Law Gazette No. 310, 1994 (midwife's duties).
  30. ^ Legal information system of the Republic of Austria: Legal sentence RS0048265. December 3, 2010, accessed on February 12, 2014 : “The knowledge of circumstances that speak for the illegitimate of a child cannot be assumed if the husband only became aware of individual suspicious circumstances; Rather, the circumstances must be of sufficient evidential value that the husband can regard the illegitimacy of the child as highly probable and expect to be able to meet his burden of proof in the dispute process. The knowledge of such grounds for suspicion must induce the man to come to a conclusion about the filing of the legal action within a year. "
  31. ^ Legal information system of the Republic of Austria: Legal sentence RS0048232. January 9, 2009, accessed on February 12, 2014 : "Doubtful grounds for suspicion are not yet aware of circumstances that speak in favor of the illegitimate child."
  32. ^ Legal information system of the Republic of Austria: Legal sentence RS0048226. January 9, 2009, accessed on February 12, 2014 : “Assumptions that are based on uncontrollable communications, or are justified in dubious circumstances that can be interpreted in various ways, cannot be regarded as 'knowledge of the circumstances in favor of illegitimacy' . "
  33. Legal information system of the Republic of Austria: legal sentence RS0048225. January 9, 2009, accessed on February 12, 2014 : “The husband must have unequivocal knowledge of the circumstances in favor of the illegitimate. If there are dubious grounds for suspicion, there is no knowledge of circumstances that speak in favor of the illegitimate child. "
  34. ORF - Ö1 morning journal, December 28, 2016.
  35. Women fertilized with the wrong sperm: “Not from the intended father”, December 28, 2016 afternoon, accessed December 28, 2016.
  36. Suspicion of “cuckoo children” in the Dutch clinic, December 28, 2016 morning, accessed December 28, 2016.
  37. Beverly I. Strassmann et al. a .: Religion as a means to assure paternity . In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . tape 109 , no. June 25 , 2012, p. 9781–9785 , doi : 10.1073 / pnas.1110442109 (English, 10 pages, additional information [PDF; 1,2 MB ]).
  38. Drugstore Roßmann did not find out about his father until he was 16 (Focus online, August 2, 2014)
  39. Focus. 32/2014, August 4, 2014, p. 108.
  40. meeting