European rights court rules for German woman on inheritance

30th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The judges ruled unanimously for the woman who was born to unmarried parents in the former East Germany in 1948 stating that her treatment had been discriminatory.

Strasbourg -- The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of a 61-year-old German woman prevented from being her father's legal heir because she was born outside marriage.

The judges on Thursday ruled unanimously for the woman who was born to unmarried parents in the former East Germany in 1948 stating that her treatment had been discriminatory.

The woman had been prevented from being her father's heir without any financial compensation, the court said, adding that it found "no grounds" to justify "such discrimination based on birth outside marriage."

The woman's father, who was from the then West Germany, never married and did not have any other children. He recognised the claimant as his daughter and had regular contact with her.

However, she was denied her inheritance after his death in 1998 because her case fell outside the provisions of a law which recognised the rights of such children as long as their father lived in the former East Germany at the time of German reunification in 1989.

Therefore the authorities turned down her requests using a 1969 law that denies inheritance rights to children born outside marriage before July 1, 1949.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 German authorities had sought to protect the rights of children born to unmarried parents, the European judges said.

But the court said this had in fact aggravated the "inequality already in existence" for children born before July 1, 1949.

AFP/Expatica

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