If you are single and expecting a child or have already given birth, you can apply to the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) for a legal guardianship (Beistandschaft). A guardian can help you and your baby with paternity acknowledgment (Vaterschaftsanerkennung) and child support issues if you want them to. This help is optional and free of charge. You will also be officially informed about this option. If you are not married to the baby’s biological father, then the registration office (Standesamt) will inform the team of the support services at the local Youth Welfare Office about your situation as soon as your baby is born. They will then take the initiative to offer you advice and support. For example, the guardian can represent your baby in court if the child's father refuses to acknowledge paternity or refuses to pay child support. This will reduce the stress on you as you won't have to go through any legal battles alone.

You can apply for a legal guardianship (Beistandschaft) at the Youth Welfare Office that is responsible for your place of residence. An informal application will suffice. You can make a request before the baby is born or after you have given birth. Once the application has been received by the responsible authorities, a member of staff from the Youth Welfare Office will contact you. This person will take on the role of guardian and will first have to get an idea of what kind of support you need for your child. The best way to clarify the questions and issues you have is to talk to them in person. Then you can develop solutions that are tailored to your needs and those of your child together. If you no longer need or want a legal guardianship, you can end it at any time by giving written notice.

A guardian is your child's legal representative. They intercede when it comes to establishing paternity or enforcing paternity acknowledgment (Vaterschaftsanerkennung). Expert support is also often required for child support issues, which can escalate into complicated disputes. A guardian will determine the father's income and calculate the amount of child support to which you and your child are entitled. They will also represent your child in court if paternity or child support cannot be resolved any other way. Even if you have a guardian, custody remains with you. If you wish, you can take advantage of a legal guardianship (Beistandschaft) until your child reaches the age of majority, i.e. until their 18th birthday. Then it ends automatically. It also expires if your child moves abroad.