Divorce in Germany [How-to 2022 English Guide] (2022)

After giving you the rundown onhow to get married in Germany, we, of course, don’t want to leave you in the dark on how divorce in Germany works, in case your marriage simply does not work out. This article will give you all the information on divorce in Germany, including the requirements, which might be different from your home country.

Disclaimer: We do not provide legal advice, and any divorce needs to be discussed with an attorney.

Table of Contents

Statistics on divorce in Germany – Is divorce common in Germany?

Divorce in Germany has become less popular in the past ten years, as143.801 divorces were recorded in 2020. That is 23% less than in 2010. Thedivorce rate in Germanyin 2020 was at 38,52% after reaching an all-time low in the last two decades of 32,94% in 2018.

That pretty much means that2,45 marriages take placefor each divorce, while theaverage length of marriageuntil a divorce is about 14,7 years.

Reasons for divorce in Germany

Since 1977 spouses no longer have to provide a reason for divorce in Germany (Schuldprinzip). Before that, divorce was only possible in case a spouse could be blamed for culpable conduct such as adultery or domestic violence.

Nowadays, the mostcommon reasons for divorce in Germanyare:

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  • Infidelity
  • Debt
  • Stress
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Lack of intimacy
  • Lack of commonalities / drifting apart

Who can get divorced in Germany?

Any married spouse can file for divorce in Germany, as long as one spouse has a German residency or citizenship, even if you did not get married in Germany.

Conditions for divorce in Germany

Since 1977 the above-mentionedSchuldprinzip(guilt principle) has been replaced by theZerrüttungsprinzip(break-up principle). TheZerrüttungsprinzipis the legal basis of every divorce – only marriages that have irrevocably failed can be divorced.

So how can you prove that your marriage has failed and is unlikely to be revived? There are three possible conditions for divorce in Germany:

  1. Both spouses have lived separate lives for at least one year, and both agree to the divorce.
  2. Divorce before the end of the separation year in a case of hardship, e.g., domestic violence.
  3. Both spouses have lived separate lives for at least three years, even if one spouse does not want to get divorced.

During the year of separation, you don’t need to live in separate places necessarily. You should, however, not share the same bed and activities. The year of separation was put into place to allow the married couple time and space to think about their partnership and marriage. The German court encourages couples to use this year for reconciliation. Any attempt to rekindle the marriage by living together for less than three months will not extend the year of separation.

In any case, the spouse filing for divorce will always need to consult a family lawyer to get divorced in Germany. The other spouse does not have to have an attorney if the divorce is amicable.

You can find an English-speaking attorney specializing in family law on theGerman lawyer portal. The page is in German, but you can use Google’s translate function in Chrome. Click on advanced search (erweiterte Suche), and there you will be able to enter the following:

  • PLZ/Ort: your town
  • Fachanwältin/Fachanwalt: Familienrecht (family law)
  • nur Fachanwätinnen/Fachanwälte: An (On – for only specialized lawyers)
  • Fremdsprache: Englisch

What is the process of a divorce in Germany?

Divorce in Germany [How-to 2022 English Guide] (1)

The process of a divorce in Germany begins by agreeing to live separately. Thereupon starts the year of separation.

To start the divorce paperwork, one spouse must submit a divorce petition through an attorney at the family court. At that time, the spouse who files for divorce has to pay the court fees upfront. Usually, the fees get split in half by both spouses afterward. You can already file the divorce petition two months before the year of separation is over. The court will serve the divorce petition to the other spouse, who has to agree or oppose.

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Should the spouse agree and the divorce is therefore amicable, both spouses need to decide on the custody of children if applicable, alimony, division of property and household, etc. in a so-called divorce consequence agreement (Scheidungsfolgenvereinbarung). This agreement needs to be signed by a notary but saves time and money in court. In case the spouse opposes the divorce petition, the lawyers of both parties present their proposals to the court, who has to decide.

In most cases, the court will send both spouses a questionnaire to determine the pension rights adjustment. The next step is the divorce appointment at the court. This appointment takes about 10-15 minutes for an amicable divorce, and both spouses have to attend. The judge will ask you questions on how long you have been separated, and whether both of you want to get divorced. In case one spouse opposes, the judge will also ask more personal questions. At the end of the court hearing, the judge will announce the divorce and send the divorce ruling via postal mail.

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How long does a divorce take in Germany?

An amicable divorce without pension rights adjustmenttakes about four months after the divorce petition was submitted, while an amicable divorce with pension rights adjustment takes five to nine months.

A litigious divorce can last years, depending on the factors that are being disputed (e.g., child custody, alimony, financial claims, house ownership, etc.).

How much does it cost to get a divorce in Germany?

Divorce in Germany costs a minimum of 754 euros in legal fees and 254 euros in court fees. The exact cost depends on how much both spouses are earning. Should child custody, alimony, and other issues be part of a divorce in Germany, the divorce’s costs and duration will increase.

The basic court and lawyer costs for divorce in Germany are based on three times the monthly net income of both spouses (minimum 3.000 euros in total). Let’s say both spouses earn a monthly net income of 4.000 euros. This means the court and lawyer fees are based on 12.000 euros worth. That could lead to estimated 1.817 euros of lawyer fees and 534 euros of court fees for a consensual divorce.

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Below you can find a basic divorce cost calculator for Germany. Unfortunately, it is only available in German. Here are the translations:

Nettoeinkommen = net income
Ehemann = husband / spouse
Ehefrau = wife / spouse
Vermögen = wealth (e.g., shared savings, properties, valuables that don’t belong to the standard household, etc.)
Anzahl der Kinder = number of children
Rentenversicherung = pension insurance
gesetzlich = statutory
gesetzlich & privat = statutory & private
Ausrechnen = calculate

Calculation tool for divorce cost in Germany

Translations for the result of costs to expect

Verfahrenswert = base amount for the court proceedings
aus dem Verfahrenswert resultierende Anwaltskosten = resulting attorney fees
aus dem Verfahrenswert resultierende Gerichtskosten = resulting court fees
Kosten für das Scheidungsverfahren = costs for the divorce

Can you stay in Germany after a divorce?

This is a very individual question for which you should consult a lawyer. However, the basic guidelines are as followed.

In case your residence permit in Germany is based on a work contract, your divorce should not have any influence. In case your residence permit is based on your marriage to a German or EU citizen, whether or not you can stay in Germany after a divorce depends on the number of years you have been married.

Has your marriage lasted longer than three years? Then your residence permit will be extended for one year after a divorce in Germany. Have you not completed three years of marriage in Germany, you will most likely be asked to leave Germany on short notice.

Of course, there are exceptions, e.g., if the marriage needs to be ended due to hardship cases.

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Final thoughts

There you have all the general legal facts and requirements for getting a divorce in Germany. Especially if children are involved, divorce is never easy, which is why German courts take the year of separation very seriously.

FAQs

How long can I stay in Germany after divorce? ›

The decisive factor here is the length of your marriage: If you have been married for more than three years, your residence permit will be renewed for another year after the divorce. After one year, you can apply for the right of residence in Germany independently.

Is it difficult to get a divorce in Germany? ›

Divorce and separation procedures are relatively simple in Germany, especially if both partners agree.

Which country has the easiest divorce process? ›

Divorce: nowhere easier than in the Netherlands
  • Irretrievable breakdown. In the Netherlands, a spouse who wishes to divorce simply needs to assert that his or her marriage has broken down irretrievably. ...
  • Divorce conditions. ...
  • Living separately. ...
  • Contact.

How is property divided in a divorce in Germany? ›

According to the German legislation, spouses filing for divorce will separate their common household assets, in the sense that each partner can keep the assets he or she owns. The expensive objects acquired by both partners during the marriage are jointly owned.

What happens when you get divorced in Germany? ›

The process of a divorce in Germany begins by agreeing to live separately. Thereupon starts the year of separation. To start the divorce paperwork, one spouse must submit a divorce petition through an attorney at the family court. At that time, the spouse who files for divorce has to pay the court fees upfront.

How much is alimony in Germany? ›

According to the courts, the employed spouse should pay pocket money of about 5-7% of his net income to the unemployed spouse.

How long do you have to be separated to get a divorce? ›

There's no legal time limit on when you can start divorce proceedings, as long as you've been married for one year. You can begin divorce proceedings as soon as you separate.

Who gets custody of child in divorce Germany? ›

Section 1632 of the German Civil Code provides that custody over a child includes the right to claim the child from anyone who keeps him unlawfully. If one parent claims the child from the other parent, then jurisdiction lies with the local family court.

Whats the fastest you can get divorced? ›

A divorce that is no-fault and uncontested will be the fastest way to get divorced because you're agreeing with your spouse about everything. Depending on your state, your divorce could take from one to several months.

How can I make my divorce go faster? ›

Uncontested divorce and mediation are two of the fastest types of separation – if your ex-spouse agrees to it. An uncontested divorce means that both parties agree on (most) divorce-related issues. Hence, the divorce can go faster because there's less back-and-forth.

Which country is No 1 in divorce? ›

Luxembourg: 87 per cent

And right now, it's also the top country with the highest divorce rate in the world.

How much is child support in Germany? ›

Child maintenance in Germany going up in 2022

For children aged between six and 11, the minimum payment is increasing by four euros to at least 455 euros per month. For children aged 12 to 17, parents will have to pay at least 533 euros per month. Children above the age of 18 are entitled to 569 euros per month.

How do I file for separation in Germany? ›

There are no legal formalities for a legal separation – one of the spouses must simply move out and live separately. However, only a German court can declare a marriage annulment.

What percentage of marriages end in divorce in Germany? ›

Divorce statistics by country/region (per 1,000 population / year)
Country/regionContinentCrude rate
Divorce
FranceEurope1.9
GeorgiaAsia1.3
GermanyEurope1.9
63 more rows

What is separation assets? ›

Separate property refers to any property the spouses acquired separately before the marriage or after separation (or in some states after divorce). Separate property also includes any gifts or inheritances acquired by either spouse at any time.

Does Germany recognize US divorce? ›

As far as German law is concerned, a marriage divorced abroad is considered to continue to exist until the foreign divorce decree has been recognized by the competent Land Department of Justice.

Does Germany have alimony? ›

Spousal Maintenance Law in Germany. Following a separation it is likely that one of the partners may be entitled to a form of alimony payment in the form of separation spousal maintenance (Trennungsunterhalt). This payment will generally continue during the separation phase until the final divorce.

How long is alimony paid in Germany? ›

There is no time limit to that as long as the marriage is not divorced. After the divorce usually a time limit applies. The law does not say for how long the alimony has to be paid. As a rule of thumb spouse support has to be paid for about 1/3 of the duration of the marriage.

How much is child support after divorce? ›

On the basic rate, if you're paying for: one child, you'll pay 12% of your gross weekly income. two children, you'll pay 16% of your gross weekly income. three or more children, you'll pay 19% of your gross weekly income.

Who pays Unterhalt in Germany? ›

The maintenance law stipulates that family members must provide for one another when one of them needs support. Such support is called "maintenance" or "Unterhalt"- and when it is paid for children, child maintenance or "Kindesunterhalt".

Who pays for a divorce? ›

There appears to be a myth that the person being divorced (known as the Respondent) always pays the fees for a divorce, when in reality this is not the case in the majority of divorce cases. The person filing for the divorce (known as the Applicant) will always pay the divorce filing fee.

Do you need a reason to get divorced? ›

A no fault divorce can be granted on grounds such as irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, or after a period of separation, depending on the state. Neither party is held responsible for the failure of the marriage.

Why do you have to wait 20 weeks for divorce? ›

The reason for the introduction of the 20 week time-frame is to provide separating couples with a specific period of reflection before the divorce is finalised.

Does a husband have to support his wife during separation? ›

If you're in the process of filing for divorce, you may be entitled to, or obligated to pay, temporary alimony while legally separated. In many instances, one spouse may be entitled to temporary support during the legal separation to pay for essential monthly expenses such as housing, food and other necessities.

Are you automatically divorced after 5 years? ›

This is just a myth; there is no such thing as an automatic divorce. Put simply, if your relationship has broken down and you have lived apart for more than 5 years, you cannot simply divorce your husband or wife without their knowledge.

How do you know your marriage is over? ›

"If you're no longer spending any time together, if one or both partners is spending all their time at work, with friends, online — and if feels like a relief not to be with each other — it's a sign that you've already disengaged from the marriage." You don't support or listen to each other.

What is Sorgerecht in Germany? ›

The German word Sorgerecht means custody, referring to the right of parents to take care of their children and to manager any assets.

Do grandparents have rights in Germany? ›

What do we know about them and their grandchildren? Grandparents have a right of access. This means that they are entitled to see their grandchildren regularly. If they are denied contact, they still have a right to contact the child (§ 1685 BGB), but only if the contact serves the best interests of the child.

What does joint custody mean in Germany? ›

In principle, joint parental custody is possible if: the child is born to married parents, the parents marry after the birth of the child, the parents declare that they wish to care jointly for the child (custody declarations), the Family Court (Familiengericht) grants them joint custody of the child.

What are the 5 stages of divorce? ›

There are two processes in divorce.

The emotional process can be broken down into 5 stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

How do you respond to divorce papers served? ›

Four ways to respond to a divorce petition:
  1. Agree with the divorce. If you can decide all of the details with your spouse beforehand, this is the quickest and cheapest option. ...
  2. Ask for amendments. ...
  3. Defend the petition. ...
  4. File for your own divorce.
2 Feb 2022

How long does it take to get a divorce if both parties agree? ›

A divorce or dissolution will take at least 6 months to complete, even if your circumstances are straightforward. It might take longer if you need to sort out issues with money, property or children. These things will be dealt with separately to your divorce or dissolution.

Can I divorce without going to court? ›

Divorce without court is exactly what it sounds like. There are ways to divorce without ever setting foot in a courtroom. Typically you'll choose from one of three options: 1) collaborative divorce, 2) mediation, or 3) uncontested divorce.

Why do people drag out divorce? ›

While it may seem irrational, many disruptive partners hope to stall the divorce in hopes the petitioning party will change their mind and call off the entire thing. Other reasons a spouse may want to drag out a divorce include: They have financial concerns about their share of the assets. They're angry and want ...

Which country in Europe has the highest divorce rate? ›

According to the 2019 UNIDOMO questionnaire Luxembourg clearly led the list of European countries with the highest divorce rate per 100 marriages.
...
Divorce rates in Europe in 2019, by country (per 100 marriages)
CharacteristicNumber per 100 marriages
Luxembourg88.9
Portugal61.4
Finland59.9
Spain55.5
9 more rows
27 Jul 2022

What country has lowest divorce? ›

Guatemala: 0.4 Divorces per 1,000 People

Guatemala has the lowest divorce rate out of all the countries globally, boasting only 0.3 divorces for every 1,000 population.

Who gets divorced the most? ›

Wives are the ones who most often file for divorce at 66 percent on average. That figure has soared to nearly 75 percent in some years.

At what age does child support stop in Germany? ›

Obligation to Pay

So, the non-custodial parent may be paying child support until the child turns 25 or older. It's up to the custodial parent to make a claim for child support on behalf of the child.

Can I stay in Germany after divorce? ›

The decisive factor here is the length of your marriage: If you have been married for more than three years, your residence permit will be renewed for another year after the divorce. After one year, you can apply for the right of residence in Germany independently.

How much does a single mother get in Germany? ›

The allowance ranges from a minimum of 300 euros to a maximum of 1,800 euros per month and is paid for a maximum period of 14 months if the other parent also claims Parental Allowance for at least two months.

How long is the process of divorce in Germany? ›

How long does a divorce proceeding take in Germany? If both of you live in Germany and you have only the divorce (no child custody, no financial claims), it usually takes between 4 and 6 months.

How do I start a divorce in Germany? ›

The process of a divorce in Germany begins by agreeing to live separately. Thereupon starts the year of separation. To start the divorce paperwork, one spouse must submit a divorce petition through an attorney at the family court. At that time, the spouse who files for divorce has to pay the court fees upfront.

Is it difficult to get a divorce in Germany? ›

Divorce and separation procedures are relatively simple in Germany, especially if both partners agree.

How is property divided in a divorce in Germany? ›

According to the German legislation, spouses filing for divorce will separate their common household assets, in the sense that each partner can keep the assets he or she owns. The expensive objects acquired by both partners during the marriage are jointly owned.

How is divorce rate calculated? ›

The U.S. Census Bureau uses data from participating states to calculate the crude divorce rate, which is the number of divorces per 1,000 people in the population.

Which type of marriage has more divorce? ›

According to a Bombay High Court hearing, divorces are higher in love marriages as compared to arranged marriages, in India. It is also a fact that India has a very low divorce rate of only 1.1% when compared to other countries in the world.

What are the divorce laws in Germany? ›

The only ground for divorce recognised by German law is the breakdown of the marriage. There is no divorce based on the fault of one of the spouses.

Does Germany recognize us divorce? ›

As far as German law is concerned, a marriage divorced abroad is considered to continue to exist until the foreign divorce decree has been recognized by the competent Land Department of Justice.

How long do you have to be separated to get a divorce? ›

There's no legal time limit on when you can start divorce proceedings, as long as you've been married for one year. You can begin divorce proceedings as soon as you separate.

How much is child support in Germany? ›

Child maintenance in Germany going up in 2022

For children aged between six and 11, the minimum payment is increasing by four euros to at least 455 euros per month. For children aged 12 to 17, parents will have to pay at least 533 euros per month. Children above the age of 18 are entitled to 569 euros per month.

Who gets custody of child in divorce Germany? ›

Section 1632 of the German Civil Code provides that custody over a child includes the right to claim the child from anyone who keeps him unlawfully. If one parent claims the child from the other parent, then jurisdiction lies with the local family court.

How do I file for separation in Germany? ›

The German legislation also allows marriage annulment and legal separation. There are no legal formalities for a legal separation – one of the spouses must simply move out and live separately. However, only a German court can declare a marriage annulment.

Can I use my old passport after divorce? ›

US Citizens: United States Citizens who change their name due to marriage, divorce, or because of any other circumstance may travel using your United States passport or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative approved document in your prior name provided you bring proof of your name progression such as; a marriage ...

Can I leave the country after filing for divorce? ›

Yes she can leave India after filing application for mutual consent divorce and there is no hurdle. Even we can assist you to get divorce without her physical presence in court during second motion through power of attorney.

How long does an international divorce take? ›

As a very rough estimate, we tell our clients to expect an international divorce to take around 4 to 6 months.

Does a husband have to support his wife during separation? ›

If you're in the process of filing for divorce, you may be entitled to, or obligated to pay, temporary alimony while legally separated. In many instances, one spouse may be entitled to temporary support during the legal separation to pay for essential monthly expenses such as housing, food and other necessities.

Are you automatically divorced after 5 years? ›

This is just a myth; there is no such thing as an automatic divorce. Put simply, if your relationship has broken down and you have lived apart for more than 5 years, you cannot simply divorce your husband or wife without their knowledge.

Who pays for a divorce? ›

There appears to be a myth that the person being divorced (known as the Respondent) always pays the fees for a divorce, when in reality this is not the case in the majority of divorce cases. The person filing for the divorce (known as the Applicant) will always pay the divorce filing fee.

How long is alimony paid in Germany? ›

There is no time limit to that as long as the marriage is not divorced. After the divorce usually a time limit applies. The law does not say for how long the alimony has to be paid. As a rule of thumb spouse support has to be paid for about 1/3 of the duration of the marriage.

How much does a single mother get in Germany? ›

The allowance ranges from a minimum of 300 euros to a maximum of 1,800 euros per month and is paid for a maximum period of 14 months if the other parent also claims Parental Allowance for at least two months.

How much is child support after divorce? ›

On the basic rate, if you're paying for: one child, you'll pay 12% of your gross weekly income. two children, you'll pay 16% of your gross weekly income. three or more children, you'll pay 19% of your gross weekly income.

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