Divorcing in Germany

1. How to divorce in Germany and where?

In Germany individuals can only divorce by court decision upon the request of one the spouses. The one who requests the divorce must be represented by a lawyer. If both of the spouses want to be divorced they have to decide which one sends the request to court.

2. What are the most common reasons that spouses may invoke?

The most common reason is that the spouses live at least one year apart. If one party doesn’t confirm this in the hearing at court the plaintiff has to proof that the parties are living apart at least 3 years or that there are other reasons that it makes impossible to be married any longer, for example violence. No reason would be that the woman is pregnant from another man.

3. How long does it take to divorce in Germany?

A divorcing procedure takes 3 to 6 months if the parties agree in the divorce. Otherwise it can take more months up to few years.

4. What types of evidence can be used when divorcing?

The types of evidence are the same as in any other procedure, normally the hearing of both parties personally.

5. What other family life aspects are settled once with the divorce?

When divorcing, there are other aspects that can be settled such as the exercise of the parental authority in case of minor children, establishing the residence of children, establishing the right of the other spouse to keep in touch with his/her children, establishing the obligation of the other spouse to pay child support or the financial support of one party for the other. These other aspects can only be ruled by the court if there is a request from at least one party. If the parties agree about these points there can be made (also without a request) a settlement agreement, which can be executed.

6. Is presence necessary when divorcing?

Yes, there is at least one obliged hearing before a judge, where the parties have to be personally present.

7. What kind of temporary measures concerning children can be ordered during divorce proceedings?

During a divorce case the court may order temporary measures regarding every aspect that is necessary, for example the children’s residence, the right of the spouse to keep in touch with his/her children, the obligation of one of the spouse to pay child support.

8. How can a parent living abroad keep in touch with his child?

A parent living in another state can keep in touch with his children who live in Germany by visiting them at their residence, by having the children for certain period of time (especially holidays), by receiving photos of the children or via modern communication channels: video calls, WhatsApp calls etc.

9. In case a parent lives in another EU State, is that an obstacle for joint custody?

A parent living in another EU State is not an obstacle when applying for joint custody.

10. How can a divorce resolution issued in Germany be acknowledged in another EU State?

Once the divorce resolution is final, the parties may request the issuance of a European form that can be used in any European State and that acknowledges the dissolution of the marriage in Germany. This divorce decision is accepted in every other member state of the EU.

Other important questions to consider before divorcing in Germany:

Are there other aspects that are obliged to be ruled when there is a divorce?

When there is a divorce there must be in any case a regulation about the rights to pension every party has obtained in the period of matrimony. This can be done by a court decision or by a settlement agreement at the court or by a settlement agreement made by a notary that has to be acknowledged by the court.

What happens with the property of the parties if they are divorced?

First there is the question if the parties had made a matrimonial agreement at the beginning of their marriage (or later). If yes these rules have to be followed. If not there can be made a settlement agreement between parties before the court or passed by a notary that has not to be acknowledged by the court.

If there is no matrimonial agreement and no settlement agreement the court decides on request of one of the spouses according to the rules of the law. The parties are obliged to make a list of all property they had in the beginning of the marriage and that they have in the end. All properties have to be listed by worth. Then the judge takes the difference of both so that there are two amounts on each side. The one who got more while the parties were married has to pay the half of that, what she/he has more, to the other party. This can be very complicated and can take years before there is a final court decision.

For example: at the beginning of the marriage both parties had nothing (they were poor students); at the time of the divorce after twenty years marriage the man has a house, a company and some money on his account, let’s say in total 500.000 EUR worth; the woman has taken care of the children, worked part time and has in the end only 100.000 EUR on her account; the decision of the court wold be, that the man has to pay 200.000 EUR (the half of the difference = 400.000 EUR) to the woman.

Publisher: NJP Grotstollen – Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce in Germany


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