Family Law in Germany

Family Law in Germany

Updated on Monday 14th September 2015

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Family-Law-in-GermanyGerman family law

The German Civil Code is the main legal framework family legislation in based on and it covers divorce proceedings, division of assets and child custody and maintenance. According to the Civil Law, all divorce cases are tried by German courts of justice. All family disputes are handled by grand family courts. The German family legislation is based upon the personal responsibility principle which establishes each spouse will be in charge with his or her own maintenance after the divorce. Spousal support is usually granted by the court if only one of the parents raises a child or more or in case of illness.

Divorce procedures in Germany

Divorce proceedings in Germany may start once the spouses have interrupted all marital relations for at least one year. However, if only one of the spouses files for divorce, the period of separation is three years. After the three-year period, the marriage is considered irrevocably broken. In both cases the procedure starts when an application is filed with the German district family court. The family legislation also required both parties to be represented by German lawyers. In case of divorce, the judge will also decide in adjacent matters such as:

  • - child custody,
  • - child support,
  • - spousal maintenance.

The division of assets will be addressed only if the parties lodge an application with the German court.

Division of assets in Germany

Individuals getting married in Germany may choose one of the three regimes when it comes to acquiring properties:

  • - the community of accrued gains,
  • - the separation of property,
  • - the community of property.

Based on these principles is how the division of assets is done in case of divorce. In order to opt for one of these regimes, spouses should conclude a prenuptial agreement which must be certified by a German notary. If no agreement is concluded the community of accrued gains regime applies which allows spouses to keep the property acquired individually before and during the marriage.

Child custody in Germany

The German family legislation establishes parents have the right to joint custody in case of divorce, as both mother and father must enjoy the same rights for the benefit of the child or children. Sole custody is also taken into account by the German court if one of the parents applies for it, case in which the judge will assess the situation of the children.

For complete information about the provisions of the family law you may also contact our lawyers in Germany.