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Divorce (Scheidung) in Germany



Divorce online in Germany - an overview:

- Under what conditions is a divorce in Germany possible?
- What is the procedure?
- How much does it cost?

Requirements for a divorce in Germany

You have to differentiate the following cases:

1. Both spouses live in Germany.
2. Only one of the spouses lives in Germany.
3. Neither spouse lives in Germany.

1. Both spouses live in Germany:
In this case, a divorce in Germany is possible. The divorce is performed in accordance with German law - regardless of the nationality of the spouses.

Theb sole ground for a dicorce is disruption of relationships to the point you can not expect that the spouses will restore the matrimonial relationship. If the spouses live already separated for at least one year and both spouses want to be divorced, it is presumed that the relationship is irreconcilably broken. In this case an application for a divorce can be made after that ysear of living separated.

If onlyone of the spouses wants to be divorced, this spouse can make an application for divorce if there is a suffucient reason for the divorce. Howewer, also in this case he has to await the end of the one-year-separation before starting the divorce procedure.


If at least one of the spouses is a foreign national, the spouses may both agree that the divorce takes place by the national law of that spouse. If so, the German court turns to the foreign divorce law.

Example: The husband is German, his wife is British. Both live in Germany. In principle, German law is applied. The spouses can also agree that divorce should instead take place under English law.

The agreement of foreign law may have some advantages:
- In contrast to German law, many countries do not postulate a year of separation before starting the divorce process
- If the spouses agree to do the divorce under the rule of foreign law, the so called "Versorgungsausgleich" (pension compensation) is not necessary so that the process is much faster.


2. If only one of the spouses lives in Germany, a divorce in Germany is also possible. There are the following cases:

(1). If those spouse, who lives abroad, startes the divorce, a divorce in Germany could be made without problems.

For example: The husband lives in Hamburg, the wife in Washington. The wife can file for divorce in Hamburg.

(2). If that spouse wants a divorce, who lives in Germany, it is possible
- if both spouses have German nationality
or
- if the last joint residence of the spouses was in Germany
or
- if that spouse who lives in Germany, has been living here for at least 6 months - if he is German - or at least a year - if he is a foreigner.

For either method:
If the spouses lived together in Germany before their separation, German law is applicable.

Example: The husband is British, the wife Canadian. Both lived together in Germany. After separation, the wife moves back to Canada, the husband remains in Germany. The divorce takes place under German law.

Counter-example: The husband is a U.S. citizen, the wife Japanese. Both lived together in the USA. After separation, the husband moved to Germany. If the wife reaches for divorce, the divorce is governed by the law of the United States. If the husband reaches for divorce in Germany - which is only possible if he has been living here for at least a year - German divorce law is to be applied.

If at least one of the spouses is a foreign national, the spouses may agree that the divorce is done by the domestic law of that spouse instead under German law. Then the German court turns to the foreign divorce law.

Example: The husband is German, the wife British. Both lived together in Germany. After separation, the wife moved to England. In principle, German law is applied. But the spouses can also agree that divorce should instead take place under English law.

The agreement of foreign law may have some advantages:
- In contrast to German law, many countries do not postulate a year of separation before starting the divorce process
- If the spouses agree to do the divorce under the rule of foreign law, the so called "Versorgungsausgleich" (pension compensation) is not necessary so that the process is much faster.
Tip: Lives of the spouses abroad, the divorce should be made possible by that spouse!


3. Neither spouse lives in Germany:
In this case, a divorce in Germany is only possible if at least one of the spouses has the German nationality.

Example: The husband is a U.S. citizen, the wife has the French nationality. Both lived in Germany. After separation, the husband moved to Japan, the wife to France. Since none of them has the German nationality, no divorce is possible in Germany.

If both spouses live abroad, the applicable divorce law is governed by the law of the last common residence.


How to make the divorce?

One of the spouses must submit the divorce petition. It is not possible to submit a common petition. Those one who submits the divorce petition must be representated by a lawyer. Applications for divorce must be filed at the family court.

Advice: If one of the spouses lives abroad, it is recommended that the divorce is filed by that spouse.

A joint petition for divorce for both spouses is not possible in Germany. But only that spouse who makes the application for divorce needs a lawyer. The other spouse does not need an attorney - whether he agrees with the divorce or not.

If there are common minor children, the court in the district where the children live has jurisdiction.
If there are no minor children, the court of last common residence in Germany is responsible if one of the spouses still resides there. If this condition is not met, the residence of the other spouse ("defendant") is relevant.

The judge considers the retirement benefits (considered part of the martial property). Other issues, like custody, child support, spousal support or division of martial property (money, bank accounts, debts etc.) are only addressed if the court is petitioned to do so by one of the spouses.

If the divorce runs under German law, always the so-called supply balance is to be regulated. When it comes to balancing supply. that the pension rights acquired during the marriage between husband and wife are equally balanced. To this end, the annuity must send the pension calculations for each spouse to the court. This leads to a divorce proceeding usually at least half a year.

The divorce proceeding is much shorter - usually about 10 weeks - if no supply balance must be performed. This is the case
- If the marriage lasted not more than three years until the petition for divorce
- If the spouses renounce the supply balance, which is possible if none of the spouses has suffered disadvantages in his pensions as a result of marriage guidance or due to a common children
- If the spouses both agree that the divorce is to be held under foreign law instead of German law, which is possible if at least one of the spouses is a foreigner ore lives abroad.

After the judgement either party can appeal during one month after the decission.

How much does the divorce cost?

In Germany there is no single price for divorces. Rather, the cost depends on the individual circumstances:
- How much is the monthly net income of both spouses?
- How many underage children are present?

In general, one can expect total costs (court and lawyer) between € 1.000, - EUR € 2,000.

If the income is low or refers to public benefits, the court may grant legal aid - even if you live abroad. Costs are either lower or drop off completely in this case.

You can download an application for legal aid here .

We will be pleased to calculate the cost of your divorce case. Give us a call or send us an email .
We need the following informations:
- How much is the monthly net income of both spouses?
- How many underage kids (including children from former relationships)?
- How long have you been married?
- What are the nationalities of both of you?