Mum must tell daughter who her dad is: Swiss court

A single mother who wanted to keep the identity of her daughter's father secret from the child has lost her final appeal and been ordered to reveal who he is.

Mum must tell daughter who her dad is: Swiss court
Do children need to know who their father is? Photo: Ashley Webb/Flickr

The Federal Supreme Court – the top arbiter in civil cases –  has ordered a trusteeship to be set up in order to establish the father's identity, according to 20 Minutes.

Putting the ruling into practice could prove difficult, though, due to the mother's resistance.

This kind of trusteeship is usually used when it is necessary to ensure sufficient payments for the child's maintenance and education are received.

But the woman in this case, from the Fribourg region of the country, argues that she doesn't require any financial assistance from the child's father because she earns enough to live “comfortably”. She added that she has “personal reasons” for concealing his name.

Judges disputed her claims, saying that due to the fact she only works part-time, her salary could not be considered “particularly comfortable”.

'Destructive consequences'

The mother even argued that the revelation of his identity may have “destructive social and psychological disadvantages.”

She said that her daughter, currently just over one year old, could decide for herself if she wanted to know who her father was once she reached the age of 19.

However, the tribunal rejected the argument that the mother's privacy was being violated.

The cantonal court argued that it is unfair to make the girl wait until adulthood before finding out who her father is, because she would miss out on “the benefit of establishing a paternal link during her childhood and adolescence, important phases in her development. “


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What are Switzerland’s rules on taking your children out of school during term time?

Does Switzerland allow parents to take children out of school so they can go on holiday?

What are Switzerland's rules on taking your children out of school during term time?

Flights and hotels are usually a lot cheaper at off-peak times when schools are not on holiday, and there are fewer traffic jams. 

It’s no wonder then that families would ideally rather travel a few days before school holidays begin – or come back just after the term starts. 

It can also sometimes be the case that a vacation to mark a special occasion, such as a wedding abroad, is planned during a school term. 

So what happens if your child misses a day or two – or even longer – of classes to go on holiday with the family? Is removing your child from lessons allowed in Switzerland?

It depends where you live…

Some common sense is required here. It simply won’t fly to take your child out of lessons without telling anyone, or keeping them off school with no good reason for a longer period of time.

But when it comes to the finer details – as with most things in Switzerland – it comes down to where your child goes to school.

According to reports in Swiss media site Blick, only a few cantons impose hefty fines on families who take their child out of school without a good reason. 

In some places, it is actually legal to take children out of school for two or three days without a reason – although you do of course have to let the school know. 

Let’s look at Zurich as an example. The canton says: “Each student has two additional and freely selectable vacation days per year. Parents also have the option of requesting an exemption for their child.”

READ ALSO: When do kids in Switzerland go back to school after summer?

The extra time off is called ‘Jokertage’ (joker days). It means that students can be absent from classes for two days per school year – without having to give any reasons.

“Parents do not have to apply for this absence,” the canton says. “It is sufficient to inform the teacher or the school management.”

If a half day is taken, it counts as a full day, and unused extra days can’t be carried over to the next school year.


An empty classroom. Image by WOKANDAPIX from Pixabay

“The school communities have the right to refuse the use of extra days on certain school occasions – these include, for example, visiting days or sports days,” says the canton.

If parents want to take their child out of school at other times (not including sickness), Zurich says there need to be “important reasons” for the absence.

These include things like preparation for important cultural or sporting events, trial apprenticeships or “extraordinary events in the personal environment of the students”.

“The school administration is required to consider personal, family and school circumstances when approving exemptions,” says the canton.

What’s the situation in other parts of Switzerland?

The cantons of Thurgau and Appenzell Ausserrhoden also have two ‘wildcard’ days available for kids, reports Blick. However, in Thurgau all absences, whether excused or not, are noted on children’s report cards.

Bern allows pupils five additional half-days. They can be registered with the class teacher in advance without having to give a reason.

In the canton of St. Gallen, there are only two extra half days available for kids. But in the city of St. Gallen, no additional vacation extensions are permitted. According to the city, requests for this are rejected. For each missed school day without a valid reason, parents have to pay 200 francs per school half-day, which increases to 1,000 francs if it happens repeatedly. 

READ MORE: 5 things you never knew about Switzerland’s school system

In Aargau, a half-day off is allowed per school year. If children are absent from school for more than three days without an excuse, they face the highest fine for these kinds of cases in Switzerland: 600 to 1,000 francs per day, and 1,000 to 2,000 francs in repeated cases, as well as a criminal charge in extreme situations. 

Although there are no special days off for children in the canton of Solothurn, parents can submit requests for vacation extensions. But fines of up to 1,000 francs can be imposed for truancy.

In Geneva, parents have to send a request to the school at least 15 days in advance stating the reasons for the planned absence, which can be granted or refused. The canton says that unexcused absences or absences for which the reason is not recognised as valid “may result in pedagogical intervention or disciplinary action”. Families can also face fines. 

The canton of Vaud says that requests for leave of absence during school time “must be made in writing to the school management, stating the reasons for the request”. However, education authorities point out that reasons of “personal convenience do not justify the granting of individual leave, unless an exceptional request is duly justified”.

In Basel-City, schools recognise extended family vacations. In kindergarten, up to five extra days off per school year are possible, in primary and secondary school two days per school year. Parents have to inform the school, but don’t need to provide further justification. 

Please note that this article, as with all our articles, is a guide only and if you are considering taking your child out of school during term time, the best thing to do is check the rules in the area where you live and talk to the school management.