German-American Divorce Lawyers in Germany

Comprehensive legal support in times of crisis

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Divorce Lawyers
in Germany

Comprehensive legal support in times of crisis

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our divorce lawyers provide specialist guidance in matters of German-American divorce. Our team advises American couples living in Germany, couples who were married in Germany and those with other family connections with Germany. With extensive experience in German divorce law, our lawyers are available to advise, guide and support you through the entire process.

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Divorce in Germany: The Legal Grounds

Under German law, divorce cases are recognised when there is a “breakdown of the marriage”. A breakdown is indicated when the couple no longer lives together and do not expect to restore the relationship. In divorce proceedings, couples need to live away from each other (separation – “Trennungsjahr”) for at least one year, or three years apart if one of the partners is seeking the divorce.

An exception to this rule involves cases of “unbearable hardship”, such as those involving domestic physical and verbal abuse. In such cases, a divorce can be granted without a year of separation.

Although Germany’s divorce laws operate under a “no fault” basis, the behaviour of the parties will be considered in matters such as child custody, child support and spousal maintenance payments.

Child Access, Custody & International Relocation: Legal Issues

The courts in Germany place “the best interests of the child” above all other considerations regarding child custody and access in Germany. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our lawyers will detail how this starting point will be viewed in your case. Usually, both parents are granted custody of the child, although parents can voluntarily relinquish their rights to joint custody. If a parent believes that granting joint custody will damage the child’s interests, they can base their challenge for sole custody on this basis.

Child custody matters are more complicated in situations involving international elements, whereby parents reside in different countries or where a parent is seeking to move the child to another country. In cases where a parent has sole custody of the child, they often do not need the other parent’s permission but still should proceed with caution. In cases where both parents have custody, the desired move must be communicated clearly with the other partner. Without constructive dialogue and the other parent’s permission, parents can leave themselves open to the accusation of international child abduction.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our family law experts will advise you whether relocating to the USA from Germany is possible. Our family lawyers will advise you on how to proceed inside and outside court. From advice regarding what the courts will often consider to be the essential points to amicable solutions regarding child access and visitation rights, you will benefit from the support of experienced lawyers.

Divorce Proceedings & Recognition of Foreign Divorces in Germany

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our team guides our clients through what to expect under German divorce law. By working with our team, they will clearly outline essential elements such as the expected costs involved and the usual time length of proceedings.

If one of the partners is an American citizen living in Germany, it could be the case that their residence permit is based on their marriage. Such a situation can leave them vulnerable in the event of a divorce. Our lawyers provide clear advice regarding actions to take based on whether they want to remain in Germany following the divorce. As a law firm that specialises in residence permits and visas, we guide our clients through the applicable residence permits and their requirements, should they be necessary.

Should your divorce have happened abroad, in the USA or elsewhere, it may be the case that German law has not yet recognised it. Such a lack of recognition can lead to significant problems, such as inability to remarry. Only once the foreign judgment has been recognised by the competent state Department of Justice, will the marriage be deemed as ended. Our lawyers will support you through that process.

Prenuptial Agreements and the Division of Assets

Prenuptial agreements carry many benefits for spouses, as they provide certainty and clarity regarding the division of property and assets in the event of a divorce or death. They can also significantly reduce the fees involved in any potential divorce. Such agreements should be reached early in the marriage to ensure that they remain as fair and considered as possible. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our family law team will apply their extensive knowledge and expertise in advising our clients regarding drafting such marriage contracts.

Marriage contracts are of crucial importance to those with business assets, and particularly to entrepreneurs. Having a secure prenuptial agreement is essential in protecting business assets. Not taking such steps can lead to significant consequences for the future of the business.

The law around prenuptial agreements varies considerably worldwide, and in the USA, there are differences between different states’ legislations. Therefore, before committing to a prenuptial agreement governed by German law, it is worth consulting with our family lawyers to determine how US courts will enforce the agreement’s provisions should the parties move back to the USA. Our lawyers will also advise you regarding alternatives to German law and governing the effects of marriage, separation, and divorce. Furthermore, we regularly consult with partner firms in the USA regarding contract enforceability issues.

Spousal Maintenance, Alimony & Child Support

With the separation year (or years) as required under German law, there is a spousal maintenance requirement. How such maintenance is applied post-divorce is determined based on the case’s facts. Generally, financial support is paid by the higher earning partner to help their former spouse to find work or gain an education. Child support payments are of greater significance and they need to be paid usually by the person identified as the father of the baby. The father is identified under German law as:

  • the man married to the mother at the time of birth,
  • the man who has recognised and signed the paternity acknowledgement,
  • where a court has recognised the man as the father of the child.

Enforcing child support payments when moving abroad can be a challenging process, and should be considered before making the move. If you are currently in Germany and are seeking to move to the USA, it is crucial to consult with experienced family lawyers regarding enforcing the alimony payments when no longer in Germany. Our team will advise you regarding how to enforce the divorce and its alimony provisions in the USA.

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Practice Group: German Family Law

Practice Group:
German Family Law

Dr. Tim Schlun

Lawyer | Managing Partner

Maria Ivanova