How to get a divorce in Germany?

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How to get a divorce in Germany?

Divorce is a complex and emotionally charged process that involves numerous legal aspects. In Germany, divorce is regulated by a highly developed legal system, and a thorough knowledge of the law helps to understand its nuances. Learn more about the specifics of the divorce procedure in this country

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The process of severing marital ties is a long and legally complex stage. Often, spouses cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, especially when they are in another country, which makes it difficult to cross the border. The divorce procedure in Germany requires a year-long separation, and the resolution of property division issues requires careful consideration of legal aspects. The complexity of the decision-making process and staying in another country are the main challenges in such cases. According to statistics, Germans most often marry citizens of Canada, Belgium, Austria, France, and Spain.  This article provides an overview of the main legal aspects of the divorce procedure in Germany.

When can I file for divorce in Germany?

In Germany, divorce is a complicated process, in particular, due to the existing rule of the "year of separate residence" (Trennungsjahr). This rule has its exceptions, such as cases of domestic violence or expecting a child from the other partner. If one of the spouses refuses to divorce, the period may be extended to three years.

Compliance with the fact of separate residence must be confirmed, starting from the moment of separation, financially and territorially. Each spouse must have a separate account and not live together in the same house. If this is not possible, it is important to keep a separate household. If your partner does not agree to separate living arrangements, it is important to document your divorce initiative in writing by sending a registered letter and keeping a receipt for the registration fee.

The divorce application can be filed close to the end of the separation period, as the court process can take at least a month.

The procedure for filing for divorce in Germany

To file for divorce in Germany, you need to apply to the family court (Familiengericht) at your place of residence or your partner's place of residence. The divorce procedure necessarily requires the participation of a lawyer, so you will have to find a qualified specialist who will file an application with the court. You can search for a lawyer on the official website of the German Bar Association.

It is sufficient if only one party files an application through its attorney, the other party will receive a notice of the application and has the right to either accept or reject it. It is also possible to file a joint application, which requires only one lawyer for both parties.

The cost of divorce proceedings in Germany

The divorce process in Germany also includes material costs. Among the most important aspects of this process are court costs and attorney's fees.

Court costs vary from 450 to 800 euros, which means that each spouse has to pay the court from 225 to 400 euros. This is only part of the financial costs, as a lawyer is required to file an application with the Family Court (Familiengericht). It is important to keep in mind that if your partner has a lawyer, and you do not, this may affect the terms of the divorce, especially in terms of finances and child custody.

In the case of a divorce by mutual agreement, the services of a lawyer can cost from 1500 to 2000 euros. However, if disputes arise, these costs may increase. It is important to choose a lawyer who is an expert in family law and is familiar with migration and international law, if it concerns the situation of expats.

On the financial aspect, if you have a low income or are unemployed, it is possible to apply for financial support to cover the costs of a lawyer and court costs, which can be an important step to ease the financial burden during this important period of your life.

What issues need to be addressed during a divorce in Germany?

Divorce is a process that requires many issues to be resolved, ranging from property division to alimony and child support. In Germany, this process has its own peculiarities and legal requirements.

One of the key aspects of divorce is the division of property. If no marriage contract was concluded, the property acquired during the marriage is divided between the spouses. In Germany, this is known as "Vermögensausgleich" or "Zugewinnausgleich". A prenuptial agreement can specify various conditions, from the retention of all property to its complete division.

During the divorce process, the former spouses are still financially responsible for each other, especially during the "year of separation". This means that financial support may be required if one of the parties is unable to support themselves for any reason. In this case, childcare and child support obligations are also determined, and the amount of alimony depends on the financial relationship during the marriage.

As for joint children, it is necessary to decide with whom they will live after the divorce, as well as whether the right to custody will be joint or sole. If no agreement is reached, this issue can be resolved in court.

The term "Versorgungsausgleich" refers to the equalization of pension rights. Since one of the spouses may stay at home, his or her future pension may be lower, and the decision to equalize is made during the divorce.

It is important to keep in mind that many issues can be resolved out of court through mediation, which can save time and money. However, in cases where an agreement is not possible, it may be necessary to contact a lawyer and the court to resolve the conflict and resolve all legal aspects of the divorce.

Divorce procedure in Germany

Divorce in Germany is a complex process that involves several stages. First, your lawyer files a divorce petition with the court. The court checks this application and sends it to your spouse to express their position. At the same time, you and your spouse are sent forms to collect information for equalization of pension rights.

This settlement process can take up to six months. After agreeing on all the details, the court sets a date for the divorce, and the spouses come to court in person, accompanied by lawyers. You need to have an identity card, a passport and possibly a family registry.

Court hearings are held without an audience, and the duration of the process depends on the length of the marriage and the complexity of the issues. In cases where agreements have already been reached, and the marriage has not lasted long, divorce can take four to six months. However, if there are disputed issues regarding property, maintenance or custody of children, or if the marriage was long, the process may take a year or more.

At the end of the process, you will receive a "divorce decree" (Scheidungsbeschluss), which officially confirms the divorce.

Annulment of marriage (Aufhebung der Ehe) in Germany

An annulment is different from a divorce. The court can annul a marriage in cases where it was not concluded correctly. This can happen if the marriage was concluded under circumstances that prohibit its conclusion, if one of the spouses was incapacitated or underage, if the marriage was accompanied by lies or threats, or if it was a sham marriage. An annulment recognizes the marriage as if it never existed.

Igor Usyk - Head of Legal Department at Visit World

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