If you are married, you and your spouse automatically have parental responsibility for your children from the moment they are born.
If you are not married, you can establish joint parental responsibility by making a joint declaration to the civil register office at the same time the father acknowledges paternity of the child. You can also make this declaration before the child is born. If you would like to request parental responsibility after you have acknowledged paternity of the child, you must submit your declaration to the regional child and adult protection authority (CAPA).
If you are not married and one of you refuses joint parental responsibility, the mother will be responsible from the child's birth. The parent who wishes to obtain joint parental responsibility must apply to the CAPA where the child lives. The authority will approve joint responsibility unless this would not be in the best interests of the child.
Joint parental responsibility is also the norm in the event of divorce. Divorce courts in Switzerland do not award sole parental responsibility to one parent unless the welfare of the child would justify that award.
If you have parental responsibility you also have a whole range of obligations. In particular, you will have to make important decisions about your children's development, oversee their education and manage their assets.
You must involve your children in decisions that concern them in a way that is appropriate to their age, and you must also respect their views as far as possible.
Having joint parental responsibility does not mean that you will automatically share custody of your children.
However, if you have joint parental responsibility you and your children may ask the competent authority to consider a shared custody arrangement. Submit your application to the divorce court or, if you are not married, to the regional child and adult protection authority (AEPA).
Even if you do not have parental responsibility, you still have the right to maintain a personal relationship with your child and to be informed about what is happening in their life. You have the right to request information from their teachers and their doctor, for example.
Click on the links below for additional information on parental responsibility: