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Sommerfeld v. Germany (31871/96) [2003] ECHR 341 (8 July 2003)

Facts: the applicant was the father of a child born out of wedlock, for whom he acknowledged paternity and with whom he lived during five years. After his separation with the mother, he was prohibited by her from having any contact with his child. Unlike Sahin , the District Court refused the applicant's access to the child because of statements made by the 13-year old child and because contact was not in the child's best interests.

Complaint: the applicant claimed a violation of article 8

Holding: violation of article 8

Reasoning: The Court reached the same conclusions that in Sahin . Even if there was an additional element weighing in favor of the German courts, namely the express wish of the 13-year old child , complete and accurate information on the child's relationship with the parent seeking access is indispensable to establish a child's true wishes and to strike a fair balance between the interests at stake (see Sahin ). The failure to order a psychological report assessing the potential effects on the child revealed an insufficient involvement of the applicant in the decision-making process.


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