10 FAQ on divorce in Germany

I have noticed that I receive many e-mails with the same questions, so I have started to post the most frequent questions – and of course the answers to them – for everyone to read for free. As this section might already answer many of your questions, I invite you to browse these FAQ before you contact me (or any other lawyer) about your case.

I have also posted FAQ about international child abduction, inheritance law in Germany, child custody law in Germanyhow to obtain a German passport, the right to freedom of movement within the EU, about filing a constitutional complaint if your human rights are violated in Germany and how to use my legal services. You can see the full list of FAQ on my website.

1. We did not get married in Germany. Can we get a divorce in Germany or do we need to return to the country of marriage?

As long as you have some ties to Germany, whether it be residence or citizenship, you can file for divorce in Germany. You do NOT need to return to Las Vegas, Denmark or wherever you might have gotten married. – Although it might of course be a good excuse to do so if you got married in Fiji, for example.

2. We are both non-German citizens. Can we get a divorce in Germany?

Yes. As long as one of you has residence in Germany for at least a year, or both of you have residence in Germany at the moment, the German court will accept your divorce case.
However, if you are both foreigners, the German court might apply the divorce law of your home country. This is actually often quite an interesting option, because you can use your home country’s law without having to go back or having to undergo the court process in your home country.

3. Will my home country recognize the German divorce?

That depends on your home country of course. But if minimum requirements of due process are kept (such as giving the other party time to respond and letting them know of the court date in due time), most countries do fully recognize German divorces and other court orders.

4. What are the requirements to get a divorce in Germany?

If the court applies German law, you only need to show that you have been separated for one year. You do not need to explain why the marriage broke up or why you separated. This one year separation requirement can also be met if you still live at the same address. You are just not supposed to sleep in the same bed or engage in too many joint activities.
This also enables a couple who both want a quicker divorce to file way before the one year of separation is fulfilled by just claiming that they have been separated for one year. If both spouses stick to the story, the court is not going to find out about it and will grant the divorce.

5. I am not yet separated for one year and my spouse won’t cooperate, but I still want a quicker divorce. Any chance?

There might be a chance, but it’s not easy: We could either try to convince the German court to use the law of your home country or the country of your last residence, which might not have the one year separation requirement. Or you could try to argue that remaining married poses an undue hardship on you. The courts only accept this argument if your spouse has committed criminal acts against you or is constantly harassing or cheating on you. Usually then, these cases become so messy that the court process takes over a year and you may as well have waited.

6. 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. If you argue about custody and visitation for your children, about child support and alimony, about your house and your retirement, it might easily take a few years.
If your spouse lives in another country, getting him or her served is the things that drags it out. This could mean another one or two months if we need to get somebody served in the EU or in North America, or up to a year if you need to get somebody served in Kazakhstan.

7. Do we both need an attorney?

No, only the filing party needs an attorney. The respondent does not necessarily need an attorney if it’s an amicable divorce.
Sometimes, spouses even come in together to see me to take care of their amicable divorce. No other attorney is needed in these scenarios and you save quite some money.

8. Can I file for divorce without knowing where my spouse lives?

Yes, but we would need to show to the court that we have done everything reasonable in our power to locate him or her, e.g. by researching public records, by calling or e-mailing relatives, friends, former co-workers of your spouse. If all of this will yield no result, you can still get a divorce.

9. I would like to have an annulment instead of a divorce.

You would need to have a very good reason for that: Either you found out that your spouse is already married to somebody else. Or you can prove that your spouse lied to you or failed to disclose important things that would have prevented you from getting married to him or her, had you known about them (e.g. your spouse has a lethal sexually transmittable disease and did not tell you).
Without very good reasons (and the evidence to support them), it’s virtually impossible to get an annulment from a German court.

10. How soon after a divorce can I get married again?

Whenever I hear that question, I would like to ask “Didn’t you learn a thing from the last relationship? Why don’t you enjoy single life for a while?”. But the client is king, and no question remains unanswered: After the court grants the divorce, both spouses still have one month to appeal. Unless both of you waive their right to an appeal at the divorce hearing, you will have to wait one month before you can get married again.

CAVEAT: In a complicated legal field like international family law, there are thousands of possible constellations. It would be impossible to word these FAQ in a way that they would fit for all scenarios. These FAQ were written with “standard” cases in mind that constitute the large part of requests that I receive. They might not be applicable in unusually complex cases.
To find out where your case is on the complexity scale, some common sense will help: If you are two foreign nationals who moved to Germany, or you are a foreign national married to a German citizen, these FAQ should give you some pretty good guidance. If on the other hand, you are a dual citizen of Ecuador and the USA and got married in Cyprus to a dual citizen of Germany and Israel after you signed a prenuptial agreement in Switzerland which also governs the fate of your corporations in Russia and Turkmenistan and you have two children in school in Australia plus an adopted child from Zambia, you know that these FAQ cannot possibly address your case.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Family Law, German Law, Germany, Law, Marriage and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

229 Responses to 10 FAQ on divorce in Germany

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  6. Nadya says:

    My partner has been separated for almost four years now. How long will the divorce process take for him?

  7. Benny says:

    “We are a bit unsure about the exact procedure when a divorce occurs between a Geman man and a Thai lady after living separate more than 4 years”

    A friend of mine wants to divorce a German man but he claims that the German court process is rather complicated regarding divcorces. He explains that once he applies for divorce the German court will send my friend a document where she explains reasons for a divorce and that she signs the document, scans it, and then sends it to him in Germany. My friend wants to know if this is right because she suspect faul play to gain access to her signature.

    thanks and regards

    • No, that’s not how the process works. The court will send a copy of the petition for divorce to the respondent who may then respond or may not. His or her cooperation is not necessary in order to obtain the divorce if the couple have been separated long enough.

  8. Schmidt says:

    Hi Mr Moser,
    Would appreciate your reply to the below query:
    A person with a Niederlassungserlaubnis based on 28 II,9 Aufenthaltgesetzt (AufenthG) which is basically an unlimited residency to a spouse of a German citizen gets divorced-
    what are the consequences in terms of the Niederlassung permit?
    – Does he need to apply again?
    – Does the Trennungsdate have a meaning? e.g. if the Trennungsdate was before the person got the Niederlassungserlaubnis.
    – If he needs to issue a new VISA permit after the divorce- what are the options? (1 year visa/unlimited/?).
    – What documents should be provided?
    Best regards,

  9. Rowena says:

    I was been separated for almost 6 years from my German husband but just a year now that we do not have totally communication at all. How can I obtain a divorce from him? We have one adopted child also here in the Philippines who is with me. Will she have any rights of support although the adoption was taken place in the Philippines and is not acknowledge by the German court?
    Thank you, and hope to hear from you.

  10. Pingback: 10 FAQ about child custody law in Germany | The Happy Hermit

  11. Vivian says:

    Hi Andreas,

    I am at pregnancy of 35 weeks now. My german husband wants to separate from me from next year on and going to divorce. In such a case, will I get special protection for myself and the baby? Thank you.

    • What do you mean by “special protection”? Of course you will have the full protection of the law.

    • waqas says:

      hi i am waqas.i belong to pakistan . but i am living in dubai now this time.i want will give you protection.so send me your picture.then i will tell you more information my self.truly.
      ok thanks

      • Awan says:

        plz contact to an expert PSYCHIATRIST immediately, he will definitely solve your issue..!! best of luck waqas..! :)

  12. Krystal says:

    Hi i was wondering im 32 weeks pregnant and my husband wants a divorce from me.I am an american citizen and i have no idea how the law works here.i was wondering who would get custody of the child.I cannot work,i was on disability in the US and also here i have no income and no job and was living with my husband and got kicked out.I do not want a divorce from my husband and want to work things out but he does not want to.He is a german citizen.Is there any help for an american citizen whos pregnant but cant work?I am scared about the baby being taken away as well due to no income and right now living with his parents. He has threatened me to get the baby taken away.He has convinced his family i have severe issues and i am scared about this.I am ADHD and have Dyslexia and anxiety disorder.Is there any legal help for me?

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  14. shane thomas says:

    Hello Mr. Moser

    I have been going through a War of the Roses divorce in Germany… The German laws are more geared tot he woman stubility. My wife committed adultry for Sept 2009 until I caught him and her in May 2011. The Germany courts are still dragging the divorce out trying to get me to pay her.. she has filed the divorce by no preceeding have started. Can I file divorce in the states and provide all the adultry infomration and finacial stuff too and get a divorce… They have milked me for 20,000 euros so far, and still not divorced. ??


    • Hello Shane, if you have already been served (and properly served, taking into account the NATO SOFA if you are a service member), then Germany would not recognize a proceeding in the US and any decision that would be made there. Now, if you care about this or not depends on whether you will remain in Germany for a long time or not and if your (then ex-)wife will be able to enforce a German judgement against you in the United States.

  15. Christie says:

    I have a friend that married a German lady in the United States and has a possible child but will not divorce him and provide a DNA test, what does he need to do any suggestions?

  16. Laura says:

    Hello Mr. Moser, I am from Colombia, I got married to German guy and I got divorce 3 years ago, of course I moved to Germany, but the things didn’t work out. I got married again to German and nice guy, we have been together almost 2 years. I got married in Denmark. Now the German court doesn’t accept my new marriage, they want that I show them that my divorce is also due in Colombia. Do the process from Germany is really expensive and complicated, I was thinking send all my documentation to Colombia, do the traduction and appostille and bringing to Germany. do you think they are going to accept it? Thank you very much.

    • Hello Laura,
      I am not sure what kind of court proceeding you are now in and I would need to know why the German court would not accept your divorce.
      I would recommend that you contact me directly with more information. I charge 150 € for an in-depth consultation.

  17. sandra weissbrodt says:

    Guten tag Herr Moser,

    I have a friend who is retired military,lives on the US now has a German wife,she is still in Germany. They got married in Germany and he filed for divorce in Germany still through the military over a year ago so the trennungs jahr is over. Do he have to file in the US or I’m Germany for divorce or both?
    Thank you for your advice in advance!


    • I would be very surprised if anybody “filed for divorce … through the military”. This is nothing that the US military does. Also, the year of separation (“Trennungsjahr”) does not begin with any filing of paperwork, but with the actual separation.
      To finally answer your question, it sounds as if he can choose between the two possible jurisdictions if no divorce action has been filed yet.

  18. Mic says:

    My wife wants to divorce after 3 years separation. I still love her and want nothing to do with it. that is, I can’t go into a court and say i believe the marriage has no chance simply because that would be a lie on my part.
    My ex is on welfare and recently got me to disclose my income (about 25 000). She say unless I do it her way and lie to a court, she will somehow make me pay much more in a year or so.
    I will likely not live in Germany next year and what suits me best is for her to file, based on length of separation, and me to be notified.
    Is she correct? Ir is she just trying to get me to agree so I pay the costs?

    • The German court will split the costs for the divorce anyway, regardless of whether you agree or not. But if your wife files, she will of course have to pay all the costs upfront. The court would then try to get half of that back from you, but as you won’t be in Germany anymore they most likely won’t do more than send you a few friendly reminders before they forget about it.
      I don’t know why your wife insists so much on you agreeing because she can also get a divorce without your consent. She only needs to convince the court that the marriage has no chance. Despite your continued feelings, she should be able to do so if she can show that there is no chance on her part to resume the marriage.
      I have sometimes represented clients (always men) with your sentiment and we were never able to prevent the divorce.

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  20. krissy says:

    I live in America and my husband lives in Germany. The other day he told me that he went ahead and divorce me. His lawyer said that since he and I weren’t living together long enough that he doesn’t need me to sign anything at all. Can he do that?

    • The following applies irrespective of where you live and how long you have been separated:
      1. Your husband cannot divorce you. Only a court can.
      2. Your husband can petition the court to do so. For this, he doesn’t need your signature.
      3. The court doesn’t need your signature either, but the court will serve you with the divorce paperwork that your husband has filed and will give you a chance to respond and make your voice heard in the matter.

      • Nadia Kentzia says:

        Dear Andreas Moser,

        I am Maltese ( born in Malta), and married to a German man. We got married in Malta and lived for 10 years in Germany. 14 years ago we decided that I leave Germany and go and live with our son back in Malta. So we are physically separated however not legally separated. I must admit that I always signed his Tax returns documents in the past even when physically separated… I stopped signing some 3 years ago…. anyways, All of a sudden my husband wants a divorce, and I told him that if he wishes to divorce , all documents should be in English as that is the international language and I do not understand technical German words when it comes to these things.
        This morning I was served with papers from his lawyer and some papers which i think are from court. All is in German. I did not understand anything. Since he wants the divorce i will not pay for any expenses, not even for a translation from German to English. Am i right in sending all these papers back to his lawyer and inform her that all correspondence should be in English and that she should correspond with my lawyer?

        thanking you in advance
        Nadia Kentzia.

      • Hello Nadia,

        feel free to e-mail me the documents, so that I can tell you what they are about and what the next steps would be.

        Sending the documents back doesn’t make sense. It would just cost you postage and you would still want to keep a copy to know what they say. Also, by sending the documents back you would implicitly acknowledge that you received them.

        You are not entitled to a translation by your husband’s lawyer as they are only instructed by him.
        But once the case goes to court, you can of course inform the court in Germany that they should please translate the documents into English (or even Maltese if you prefer). The court will then do that. The court in Germany would require your husband to pay all the fees upfront and would then split the fees once it grants the divorce.

        If you have a lawyer, then you have to bear the expenses for your lawyer of course, but if you want to be represented in the proceeding in Germany, you will have to hire a lawyer in Germany. Depending on your income and your assets, you may also qualify for legal aid in Germany, i.e. the German government would pay your lawyer, court, travel and translation fees.

  21. annabelle says:

    Good Day Mr. Moser, i have an aunt who is Married a german national and is now based in Germany…… before she married the guy there, she was forced to sign a paper saying she cannot have anything from the guy if they divorced…. she signe it, afraid that she will be sent home and have no money in her pocket, ….. cant she really get none if she filed divorced, they have one son age 17, she can no longer take the maltreatment of her husband, not physically though but mentally…….

    • I would recommend that your aunt contacts me and includes a copy of the agreement that she signed. I’ll then schedule a consultation with her.
      German courts have sometimes declared such agreements to be void or have amended them, but it requires specific circumstances.

  22. Kayla says:

    I’m American, been married to a german man for 2 years. It hasn’t been working. I just got an “Ausbildung”. If i file for divorce will i be sent back to america for the one year of separation or since i now have an “Ausbildung” i can move into a per say “apartment”? How does this work since i only have residency in germany by being married to him?

    • Unfortunately, the residence permit which you have now (§ 28 I AufenthG) only allows you to remain in Germany in case of a separation after 3 years of living together (§ 31 I Nr. 1 AufenthG). If you separate before, this residence permit is no longer valid. There is a hardship clause in § 31 II AufenthG, which you might be able to invoke, but only if your receive enough salary in your training to be able to survive without any government benefits.
      Alternatively, you could change your residence permit to one based on the training contract, but it would again depend on the salary and the job if that is an option.

      • Kayla says:

        I’ve been living here since 2010 so 3 years but we’ve only been married 2. I have to renew my german visa in November (our marriage is still under Fraud observation)(They do this to all marriages to foreigners apparently) I think for the first year of my salary i won’t earn more than 520€ It’s an “Ausbildung” in “Einzelhandel” I doubt that is enough to live off of without Gov benefits. So does that mean i may have to wait till i am finished with my training? What is this about getting a residence permit from my training contract? How does that work?

      • Kayla says:


      • You seem to have reached the limit of what I am willing to answer for free. I’ll be happy to put up a similar list of FAQ for residence permits in Germany if someone finds it important enough to send me at least one of the books on my wishlist. Alternatively, I am available for a personal consultation, for which I charge 150 EUR.

  23. Kate Markmann says:

    Hello Mr. Moser,
    I am British citizen, married to a German man. We have been seperated 11 years and now I want a divorce. He has been living back in Germany for 6 years and I still live in Spain, where we lived together for 10 years. He is receiving state benefit and is due to be pensioned in Feb 2014. My husband recently told my son that if I go ahead with divorce before Feb, then I would be liable to pay back the benefit that he received. Is this true? I have filed for divorce here in Spain.

    Kate Markmann

    • If the German government has never contacted you about the benfits payments to your husband so far, you cannot be forced to compensate the German government retroactively.

  24. Sally says:

    Hello Mr.Moser
    Am a Kenyan Citizen, married to a German Man almost now 4years and now i want to seperate with him after he cheated on me.What can i do because i can no longer trust him?

    • Well, you can leave him. Or you can kick him out. Which option is more feasible depends a bit on who owns your apartment or house and what your financial situation is.

      There is no need to file for separation or to get any paperwork for it. Once you will have been separated for one year, you can then file for divorce.

  25. Sally says:

    Hello once more.I have a question.This year i wanted to apply for unbefristeter Aufenthaltstitel.Will it affect me after separating from him.

    • That depends what your residence permit is based on. If it is based on being married to a German spouse, yes, it will be affected.
      I have long wanted to put up a similar list of FAQs about residence permits in Germany, but I am waiting for someone to find it important enough to send me a book from my wishlist.

  26. sajid says:

    hi, a german women divorce in another country how much time it will take to get a certificate of divorce in germany….

    • She can get the foreign divorce recognised in Germany (although she usually doesn’t need to) and that would typically take a few months.

      • sajid says:

        she have submitted her papers its already been 5 months how much time it will take further to finish the case do you experience any related case can u tell me the exact time ….

      • Of course I cannot tell you the exact time. I know none of the details of the case and I am not the one making the decision.

  27. Ss says:

    Hello Mr. Moser
    I am a Turkish citizen married to a German citizen and living abroad in Asia. We never resided in Germany but our marriage has been approved by the German state 15 yrs ago. We have been seperated for one year now here in Asia. I want to file for divorce in Germany since he is German and our child is German, to protect my child’s rights more as the German divorce law favors our protection more than the Turkish divorce law. Is this possible to do as a Turkish national having been married to a German national to file for divorce in Germany from a German citizen?
    Thank you very much
    Best regards

    • 1) You may be able to file for divorce in Germany, but you would need the help of your current country of residence to serve your spouse with the divorce paperwork. Also, your country of residence might not recognise the German divorce. So, this is really only advisable if you will both have lawyers in Germany, so that no international service is necessary, and if you don’t mind about your status in your country of residence.
      2) Filing for divorce in Germany would not help regarding child custody because Germany does not have jurisdiction as your child does not live in Germany at the moment.

  28. Chris L says:

    Mr Moser,

    I have a friend who is currently in the process of going through a divorce in Germany. He is a US citizen and she is a German citizen. They met in the UAE, she got pregnant, they married in Denmark and she lost her job in the UAE because she got pregnant before they were married. When the child was born, something was said and she claimed to the police that he was going to kidnap the child. He has since come back to Afghanistan. He’s currently paying child support and is going through the process of an ugly divorce. She wants a “Sustainment fee” of 2000 euro per month. He said he received some paperwork from the German court stating that he owed 12000 euro so far and that he can’t appeal it. Is this legal under German law? Can she force him to pay “Alimony” prior to divorce and without having a day in court? This would be 2400 euro per month, which seems high compared to America. I look forward to hearing back from you.


    • There is pre-divorce alimony under German law, and the court could make a decision in writing, but not without having notified your friend first to give him a chance to respond.
      I could say more once I see the paperwork.

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  30. A says:

    Hello Andreas,
    I will marry a German man and I am not from Germany. I will quite my job and everything in my country and move to Germany. I just want to know if we get divorce later (and I couldn’t find a job there while we were married) what happen with me. Do I loose everything?
    And what happen if we buy a car or a house or something after we are married? For example, in my country, if only one person works but he/she buy a house after getting married with another person that house is half of each part of the couple. Is it the same in Germany?
    I’m not trying to get any advantage but if I will quite to everything (I’m 40 so it won’tt be easier to work later) I have to protect myself.
    Thanks very much,

  31. rosemaryoselu says:

    married to germany guy after 6years, and now we are in separation for two years. can l apply germany citizenship with my husband income papers. this becz l dont have my income for the moment.

  32. Irina says:


    I am British and married to a German. We have two children (5,5 and 1,5). During my second pregnancy my husband started an affair with a colleague and a month after the baby was born he left me and moved out of the flat. It has now been just over a year since we’ve separated and he sees the children every Wednesday and every second weekend. He doesn’t pay child support but pays for the rent of the flat where the kids and I live (1600euro). We do communicate but since I am still nursing a broken heart I often find our communication hard and painful. Over the past 12 months he has more than once given me hopes that he would return to our family but now I am starting to think that he is simply manipulating my feelings as a way of keeping me in Germany. I would love to move on with my life and go back to the UK but I understand that I can only take the children with me only with the permission of the other parent. My husband has told me a number of times that he’ll not give me the permission. I find it very disturbing and unfair that I have no other possibility to return back to my home and need to stay here because of the children.
    I don’t know where to start. Please give me with some advice.

    With kind regards

  33. cleophus johnson says:

    Hello, Mr. Mosar

    Do u have a contact number that I can call u from Germany?
    Mr. Johnson

  34. Bashar says:

    Hi Mr. Moser,
    It would be highly appreciated if you can find a solution for this issue: my cuzz is married to a German man, they got married in Jordan and after marriage they moved to Germany. Now after 12 years of marriage she wants a divorce after she knew he cheats her; they have two kids ( 11 yrs, 4 yrs old). she wants to get divorced but have custody of the kids knowing that she has a residence in Germany . Thank you

  35. Bashar says:

    Thank you . These info was useful.

  36. Nausheen says:

    Hello Andreas,

    Your FAQs section is very comprehensive. Thank you for providing clear and concise information. However, I would like to know how much a divorce is going to cost us. I understand this depends on the individual case so I am providing some information below.

    Me and my husband are both British citizens. We got married in a non EU country 10 years ago and lived in the UK for eight years after getting married. We have been living in Germany for two years and have been separated for more than one year, living in different cities. We want to get an amicable divorce. Both of us work and don’t want any money from each other. We don’t have any children.

    So basically, we just need a legal document stating that we are divorced. I am assuming you can represent both of us? Can you please advise how much it will cost in terms of lawyer fees, court charges etc.

    Many thanks.

    • The costs of the divorce are made up of two elements: court fees and lawyer fees. If none of you speak German, the court fees will also include the fees for an interpreter for the hearing.

      The court and interpreter fees are set by law.

      The lawyer fees depend on the lawyer. However, most lawyers charge minimum fees which will depend on both your incomes, not on the complexity of your case.

      If one of you has no or only little income, it would be better if that person files, because he/she might qualify for legal aid.

      I personally can’t represent you at the moment, because I am not practising in Germany. If you send me an e-mail with both your incomes and a book from my wishlist, I will however be happy to calculate what the maximum fees will be for both of you.

      If it’s an amicable divorce, it is sufficient that one of you (the petitioner) will be represented by an attorney. The respondent can remain unrepresented. The court fees will then be split. The court cannot split the attorney fees because the lawyer can only represent one of you, but of course you can privately agree to split these fees as well.

      • Nausheen says:

        Thanks for your prompt response. Such a shame that you are not in Germany. I will look into possibility of getting this done in the UK now.

      • You might have to pretend that you are domiciled in the UK in order to establish British jurisdiction (Art. 3 I b EC-regulation 2201/2003). Don’t ignore the requirements of that regulation if you plan to continue to reside outside of the UK because otherwise a British divorce might not be recognised e.g. in Germany, meaning you’d still be considered as married even if you think you are already divorced.

  37. elizabeth stueber says:

    Hi. I found your blog and was wondering if you could help. My husband I will be married 18 years on 12/24/2013. He left without any kind of notice or problems. After doing some investigation on different pages of his I found out he had been “cheating” with a woman online in Berlin for almost a year. He had been sending her money, flowers, toys for her kids… just made me ill. We had a wonderful marriage.. I have no idea what happened. He left me in a mess. To make a long story short I can’t afford the expensive divorce. I need a legal separation . I wonder can I do that in my state with him in Germany or does have to be here because he won’t come back. He knows I know the truth now so he is very ashamed for lying to me. I can’t get any money out of him from what I hear even though he did all those things… so I need somewhere to start.

    Thank you so much.

    • That depends wholly on the law of your state. German law knows no legal separation. Separation is a factual matter, divorce is the legal matter.

      Because you are worried about the expenses: you might qualify for legal aid if you file for divorce in Germany.

  38. Patsy says:

    I have just gone through a divorce in Germany and one part of it remains unclear to me. The divorce was a simple one with no contesting it from my ex. We had our court date last month and all went okay. A few weeks later, we received a letter confirming the divorce, but we were told this is not the legally binding divorce paper. I am aware of the one month waiting period and was also told we would get the final divorce paper after this period is over. But what is unclear to me is whether this month period is a month from the date we had the court hearing, or from the date this initial letter was received (which was a few weeks after the court hearing). Thanks in advance for your help.

    • It is one month from the date on which you receive the divorce decree (or the date on which your ex-spouse receives the divorce decree, if he receives it later). The idea is to give you one month to consider whether you wish to appeal.
      If both of you are represented by attorneys, you can inform the court that you are waiving your right to an appeal, making the divorce final right away.

      • Patsy says:

        Thank you for your reply. Will I receive another paper after the month is up that is legally binding (since I was told the one I have now is not)?

      • Usually yes. The court will send out another copy of the divorce decree which will be stamped “rechtskräftig seit [date]”, indicating the date when the divorce will become final.

  39. Cathrine says:

    Please help. I came to Germany for a better life after going through much and had married a German man. He began becoming abusive, lying and cheating. As we were separated a new person came into my life a German citizen who has been helping me and we will marry ocne the divorce is complete. I only fear since only been here going on 2 year end of April 2014 and the fact the auslandebehorde has had it brought to their attention of the separation I could end up deported? I am so scared as I have everything I own here and my partner and I are very happy together and have been together the past 9 months. We are talking to the lawyer that handled my divorce but in the mean time as I a bipolar, depression and mental illness(non violent) and a sufferer of anxiety I am really terrified at the thought when I thought things would be ok that I could lose all and be sent back to America and I can say I will surely die because I have no one and no support system. My partner understands me and is a huge support and help. Unfortunately when the auslandesbehorde asked about the divorce and separation we both being unsure what to do or say my fiance did not tell him the whole truth so we are hoping the lawyer can help rectify this and tell the auslandesbehorde the situation and that it does not endanger my being able to stay. I have friends,a petand people I call family and a better life here and I am not living on German benefits I have disability from America but its not alot to live on but enough with my partner so I so not use German welfare. My new visa is set to expire 30 April 2014 but I am worried anyday they could take it just because I am not living anymore with my husband. I love my partner so much and wish he had been the person I came here for originally. I can not live with begin taken away because the first person I was with quickly turned into such a horrible person. I cant express the fear and distress I have right now but I hope theres some help or hope for me.

    • If you are a US citizen and you do not claim any welfare, then in my experience the Ausländerbehörde won’t initiate any deportation proceeding. They know that as a US citizen, you can always return because you don’t need a visa for any stay of 3 months. You could also go to any other Schengen country.
      Obviously once the divorce is final, you would need to get married to your new partner in order to get a residence permit in accordance with § 28 I AufenthG again.

  40. Nana says:

    Hallo Andreas, I have a problem which I think you can help me. I got married to German citizen in Dec. 2012 and I got my aufenhaltherlaubnis in Dec. 2013, now my wife want us to separate our address without divorce which I don’t know the actual reason, my aufenhaltherlaubnis will expire in may 2015. Please can that affect my renewal of my aufenhaltherlaubnis with separation of the address? Please I need your help before any harm can be cause. Thank you so much and God bless you.

    • If you separate (even without a divorce), your residence permit will become void. If the immigration authorities find out about it, they might rescind it.
      Only after having been living together (at the same address) for 3 years, you could receive a residence permit which is independent of your marriage.

      You have two options:
      (1) Trying to keep it secret from the immigration authorities.
      (2) Or base your residence permit on something else, like studies or work.

  41. bashar says:

    Hello Mr. Moser,

    My cuzz is married to a German man since 12 years and they live in Germany since that time, they were married in her origin country ( Jordan) . if She wants to use the divorce law of her origin country Jordan and her husband wants the German divorce law, what law the court will choose. She has residency in Germany.

  42. Oooooo says:

    I am an American married to a German. We have always lived in the US. We have been married about 7 and a half years. He has only worked for about a year and a half in the US. He is a permanent resident. I can not tolerate the verbal abusive situations he sets up. He humiliates me in front of other men. I have tried to talk to him and he agrees to stop only to do it again. I have even tried writing emails to explain how it makes me feel. He says nothing if I use email and if I try to talk to him verbally, he accuses me of yelling at him and he gets very abusive and defensive. I am so tired of the whole thing. I want as quick and clean divorce as possible. I take it that it would be easier to do while he is still here in the US. I am on Social Security and I am concerned that I might would have to support him. Could you at least tell me how to get started. I am not interested in romantic relationships now or in the future. I just want peace and no more arguments and abuse. Last year I was diagnosed with cancer. I have done well but it makes it hard when I feel emotionally abused. Please just get me started. I do believe he would cooperate with a divorce and I don’t care what he does afterwards. Part of his problem is alcohol I think. Thanks for any help you can offer.

  43. Spartacus says:

    I’m an American citizen that has been recently divorced after a long separation. The state I divorced in does not allow to remarry for 6 months once the divorce is granted. However, I can go to a different state and remarry as long as I do not reside in the state where the divorce was granted for the 6 month period. What prompted me to finally complete the divorce process was the desire to move on with my life and marry my German girlfriend. QUESTION: Will I be allowed to remarry in Germany before the 6 month period? Thank you.

    • Unless the 6-month waiting period is explicitly mentioned in your divorce decree (which you will need to submit with a German translation), you won’t have any problem getting married in Germany within these 6 months.

  44. Sally says:

    Hello, I have a question. I have a friend( Africa) who got married German woman.As they were Married, this woman had an Affair with her X boyfriend too. So, the woman got pregnant from her X boyfriend and she threw her husband out of the house. So the husband when to live alone and he looked for a full time job. So, one day he was at work and his women with her X boyfriend went to the Immigration office and they sent Policemen to her working place and he was thrown out of work. So he went the next day to Immigration Office and took his Passport and gave him what is Called” Duldung”. One day he was not at his house and some men brooke to his house and Stole some things. This Duldung he was given he had right to work so he looked for another full time job where he was paid 1000€. So his Duldung expired expecting to be given his passport because he knew he could live as he had a good job but has he went the Immigration office denied him and he was told to live out of German. He left his new job too.Is there anything you can help him as he was denied his right?

  45. Alfonse says:

    Hello Andreas,
    Let me start by thanking you for all the help you provide to people, I can see many people have a better idea about their statuses after you have adviced them.

    Now, regarding my situation:

    I am a Salvadoran citizen living in Germany, my wife is German. I have almost two years of living in Germany with Aufenthalstitel. Things are not going well in our marriage and it might end soon. How long can I stay in Germany after we decide to separate? I have read we have to wait a year after separating until we can file, which will give me time to prepare and figure out where I’ll go. Mywife says I have to leave immediately, which I think is BS. Please advise.

    Vielen Dank!

    • It’s true that your wife has to wait for one year before she can file for divorce.
      However, if you have a residence permit based on the marriage, it can become void already as soon as you are separated (if the immigration authorities learn of that fact), not only once you are divorced. Only after living in Germany for 3 years would your residence permit become independent of the continuing marriage (§ 31 I no. 1 AufenthG).

      • Alfonse says:

        Thanks for the response, Andreas. I guess I have to start looking for legal assistance if it comes to this. I have spent thousands of Euros in consumer durables and other expenses that dried my bank account, things that she would keep and have benefited her. I don’t want to stay in Germany nor I want any type of assistance from the local government, I just want to make sure I get a fair deal here. Again, thanks for your help!

  46. Devra says:

    I am an American citizen my husband is a German citizen. He came over on a visitors visa and we were married in the USA. He went back home and because of not being able to sponsor him he never moved here and we separated. He filed for divorce in Germany and we have no assets or children together. Once the divorce is final will they send me a divorce decree? And who would I give it to here in the USA to make our divorce legal here?

    • If the German court has your address, then they will send you all the paperwork, including the divorce decree once it will be issued.

      As to what you need to do in the US, I am not sure because I am only a German lawyer. I suspect it might be different in each state.

  47. Anna says:

    Dear Mr. Moser,

    My husband and I want to get a divorce ASAP, He is german, im venezuelan. We have been together in our relationship for 10 years, but married since August 2009 in Venezuela, and came here on October 2011, things didnt work out, and now we want to get a divorce, but since we dont have 3 years married within living in Germany, will this be an issue? will the court see it as a convenience marriage and would start an investigation if we file for a divorce right now?. . (We both live on harz V)

    Than you so much for your answer
    Best regards

    • No, the Family Court would not care about that. It’s not unusual or suspicious to get divorced after being married for only a few years. Many couples find out that early that marriage doesn’t work out.

      If anyone (possibly the immigration authorities) will ever accuse you of a convenience marriage, you can easily point out to the long relationship before that. You can usually prove that by photos of joint activities/travels or with witness statements of friends and family members.

      • Anna says:

        Thank you so much for your answer!,
        i do have more questions, where do I go to file for divorce (the German name/place), and would they know how to deal legally with a divorce under Venezuelan law? because I´ve been told that by my country’s law, its only 3 month period. And what type of documents do I need to give?.
        Best regards

      • You need to get a lawyer because you cannot file yourself (that’s mentioned in the FAQ above).
        The German court would apply German law because this is the place of your last joint residence, unless you both choose to apply Venezuelan law (Art. 5 I c Rome III regulation).

  48. ST says:

    Hi Andreas,
    Thank you for the informative website! I have been a silent reader so far.
    Would you be able to tell me what would happen to my Niederlassungserlaubnis after leaving Germany for more than a year? I got this permit because I was married to a German guy – I lived in Germany for more than 5 years and I also worked full time while living there. We have unfortunately been separated for more than a year, even though I don’t think that our divorce proceeding is finalised. Would I still be able to keep the Niderlassungserlaubnis (for example for work purposes) if I should decide to return to Germany again in the near future? Some sources claim that after leaving Germany for more than 6 months, a non-German citizen would lose his/her Niederlassungserlaubnis and would have to apply for a new residency permit when they want to live or work in Germany again, is this true? Many thanks in advance for taking the time to read and answer my question.

    • Yes, that’s true. It usually expires if you leave Germany for more than 6 months (§ 51 I Nr. 7 AufenthG). If you want to leave longer and keep it valid, you need to obtain prior permission from the German immigration authorities.

  49. ST says:

    Thank you for the quick response, Andreas :).

  50. Spartacus says:


    I’m getting married in Germany this summer and a document Germany needs from me is a certification of no appeal concerning my previous marriage. We don’t have this to my knowledge here in the states. Can you tell me what it is and how I obtain one? I’ve visited the court house and records clerk and they’ve never heard of such a thing. THANKS!

  51. Hello, fiance is American,married to a German, separated for over two years, she s in GE he is in the States. They have no children or valuables but she refuses to send the american divorce papers back. Still the divorce will happen here in the US. Question, will the divorce here be recognized in Germany or does he have to go through the whole process again there?
    Thank you

    • If the US has jurisdiction (as determined by the German law), then the divorce should get recognized by Germany. Generally though, German divorces may be easier because the cooperation of the other party is not required to grant the divorce.

  52. Mate one says:


    I have couple of simple questions and I am not sure if I will need a consultation to get them answered!

    I have separated from my german wife five years ago and by papers we r still married.
    She has filed a divorce and they been contacting me via my cousin in Switzerland
    This has been going on for years, the court has finally sat the date to early next month and I have been invited to attend the hearing.

    I have a daughter with her and she is 7.
    Frankly I was not supporting her much due to financial issues however I have only started doing that now.

    I am outside the eu now and my residency was expired 5 years ago it was only a three years spouse visa.

    1. Will I be able to renew my residency via the German embassy abroad before I go to the hearing?
    2. Will I be able to ask for my child custody to be equally divided between us?

    3. Can I still live germany after divorce to support my daughter?

    4. I have a credit card and bank debt of around 30k euro can I still get in there and what r the chances of paying that debt back’?

    Thanks for your help in advance.

    • Because this involves questions of divorce, child custody, immigration, child support, contract and possible bankruptcy law, it probably really best if we schedule a consultation. A lot of these depend on each other and I would need to know more details (e.g. your citizenship, the kind of contact between you and your daughter) and I’d like to take a look at the paperwork that you received.

      I charge 150 EUR for a telephonic consultation.

  53. raudha says:

    Been married to a german for 9 months,but he acts so different from how i met him, he gives me a psycological torture, he says everything i do annoys him and everything i do annoys him, i really can not stay with such a person who puts me down all the time, if i ignore all his accusations and keep quiet, he says we can not live like this,i must file for divorce, he says one year of separation and he wants me to get out of his house during the separation and go home where i closed everything bse i loved him and wanted to live with him, he tortures me bse he knows i lost my business bse i wanted to live with him, i feel like a poor girl he picked on streets, i have no freedom of speech, no peace, i only get peace when i fuck with him then he comes back to normal but am fed up, how can i even think of making love when my minds are tortured, he created fear in me, so i end up keeping quiet day by day, i need help, i need a divorce but i can not file for it bse i am a house wife with no income at all, i want to go back home. Can u please advice me, am new in german. Thank u

    • raudha says:

      He is never blamed and when he feels guility he can never apologise to me , never makes me feel like a wife, i feel like a house helper, many issues that i can not say but how do i get rid of him, i want to divorce and go back to my home country free, where i have peace, freedom. We just had a terrible situation but i think he is impossible, wat can i do? Any authorities that i can contact?

    • You can return to your home country any time, you don’t need to wait for a divorce. After being separated for one year, you can then instruct a lawyer in Germany on legal aid (depending on your financial situation then) and you don’t need to return yourself for the divorce.

      • raudha says:

        Thanks alot, yes i can return to my home country but how? Is there any authority that can help me get home bse i have no money at all, like i said i gave up my everything at home thinking i have found a better person. I totally have nothing home nor here. If i ask him to take me home
        Bse he is the one who brought me he says he only brought me as his wife that since i dont want to be his wife any more, i shud take myself, where in germany do i go for help if i need to be deported home, i thought i would make him pay for wat he has done to me and for making me believe his a nice man and i gave up my all just to be with him but its a wastage of time. I even think he is a psycho bse he acts like one. Where do i go to be deported home? Thank you so much again.

      • What is your home country?

      • raudha says:

        I come from uganda, am 26yrs old married to a 64yr old german , who promised heaven and earth to me. I regret every single day and i hope i will never be stupid again.

      • You could try the Ugandan Consulate to see if they can loan you the money for a flight to Uganda.

        Other than that, you could go to the German immigration office and tell them that you are separated and that you need help. This will mean that your residence permit will become void (because it is based on you being married, I assume) and you can then suggest that they pay you the flight to Uganda and have one case less to worry about.

        But there is no entitlement to have your expenses taken care of because it was your own decision to come to Germany.

        Another possibility is that you work (if you have the residence permit in accordance with § 28 AufenthG, you have a work permit) and save the money.

      • raudha says:

        I don’t work, am a house wife just been here for 2 months but married already. Thanx alot, will go to the above for help.

  54. Stani Nilov says:

    my wife and i are both from the US. We aren’t expats. We have and hold residency permits in Germany. one of us works and the other stays at home. i want a divorce as soon as possible because of some abuse issues. i do not wish to remain married to her. we have 2 kids and she is not aware that I am going to proceed with this. My question is this: what is the best way going about this if I want this done immediately. i have friends here who went through it in less than 1 week. How is this possible?

  55. AG says:

    Do you know how is the procedure to separate life insurance in case of divorce? I didn’t have kid(s) from my 3 years marriage, only daughter from my wife.

    • That depends on the specific life insurance contract.

      If you have a life insurance policy which will be paid out in regular installments, it generally falls under the “Versorgungsausgleich”, the mandatory distribution of retirement benefits (§ 2 II no. 2 VersAusglG). But if you have a cash-value life insurance, it will fall under the “Zugewinnausgleich” (the distribution of marital property) which is not obligatory. It will only be carried out if one of the parties asks for it.

  56. Ss says:

    Dear Mr. Moser

    My husband is a German citizen and I am a Turkish citizen, we have a 15 year old son who has both of the nationalities. We have A German marriage certificate too. Our marriage is registered in Germany. We never resided in Germany but my husband still is registered as a resident there as well, as he gets child money from the government. We have been seperated for more than a year. Although we live abroad he is employed by a German company based in Germany and his salary is put in a German bank, in Germany every month. I have been married to him for almost 16 years. He never made me a partner of this bank account. I have never seen what he has been doing with our savings. I want a divorce but he is resisting not to lose money. So what I want to do now is to file for my rights in Germany for the money to make sure this bank account goes under watch and I want to claim whatever the half of the money now, to rescue my share. Since he is not comprimisimg for divorce it will take at least another three years to get the divorce done. By that time he can use up all the money in the German bank account. Can you please tell me what I can do to claim my share of the money asap and put this account under some kind of control? I will hire you as my lawyer .

    Thank you so much for your help.

  57. Omo says:

    Hello Mr Moser,
    Thanks for all the insight and help you give on this forum.
    I have a friend who is in a relationship with a German man for the past 7 years. When they met he told her that he was separated from his wife who lives in Germany with their two kids. She erroneously thought that meant he was divorced. He now claims that his wife in Germany won’t grant him a divorce. My questions are:
    1. Is it possible that he can’t get a divorce just because his wife says she doesn’t want one? Especially when they’ve been separated for the past 7 years? ( He works and lives in Kenyan but travels to Germany twice or thrice a year to visit his kids).
    2. If he can get a divorce irrespective of what the wife says, how long will the process take since he resides outside Germany?

      1. No. Wives don’t grant divorces, courts do. After such a long separation, his wife cannot prevent a divorce.
      2. If he files in Germany (which he can even without living there because the wife still lives there), it wouldn’t really matter that he lives in Kenya. He will hire a lawyer in Germany who will do everything for him. The duration of the proceeding will depend on how much the spouses will argue about (especially financial matters).
  58. Marco says:

    Hello Mr. Moser,
    thanks a lot for all the info.
    I have 2 questions: we are both foreigners but married in Germany and now got separated.
    My ef-wife moves to UK and I stay here with our 2 kids.
    She will not get money from me but the notary (a woman) told us that if she wants, she is eligible to get a monthly alimony.
    Can this be true ? She is the one that leaves the family and goes to another country.
    If she will live with another partner, will she still be eligible for the alimony ?

    • It could be possible, but it depends on a lot of factors, primarily both your incomes and your employment histories throughout the marriage. Other factors are the age of your children, the duration of your marriage and plenty more details.
      This is a question which I could really only answer properly if I speak to you about all the details of your case. For such a consultation I unfortunately need to charge my standard fee of 200 EUR.

  59. Layla says:

    Hello Mr. Moser and thank you for taking the time to read and answer this post.
    My husband is an alcoholic. He said he will start the divorce papers and I will not get the German passport. We’ve been married more than 3 years, but I just started to learn German, he did the impossible to hinder my way to independence. So, I don’t work and I only have my aufenhaltherlaubnis which it’s due next year Oktober. If I reject the divorce, he has to wait one year to proceed. Within that year, Am I allowed to get at least my permanent residence?. I put him an Anziege at the police for family violence, they took away a schrekgun he used to threaten me and he had to declare. Can that situation help me? Could I get some indulgence to get my citizenship with out my husband’s consent?

    • You don’t need your husband’s consent for citizenship at all. It’s not up to him to decide, but it will depend on your language skills and your economic integration at the time of your application. For more on this, please see my FAQ on German citizenship law.

      Regarding the residence permit, the documented domestic violence can indeed help you to obtain an independent residence permit: § 31 II 2 AufenthG

  60. ML says:

    Hi Andreas,

    Hope you can help me on this. My husband and I started the divorce in January 2014. Since we don’t have kid or property together, our lawyer said it will take just half a year to proceed. Now it’s almost end of July and I still haven’t heard anything from the court or lawyer. I’m in the 27 weeks of pregnancy with my new partner right now and I have heard that if the baby is born before the divorce, the Acknowledgment of paternity will go automatically to my husband. And the last name of my baby will follow as my husband as well. My due date will be end of October, do you think the divorce will take that long until October? Will it help a bit faster if I talk to the lawyer about this? I still haven’t told both my husband and the lawyer about the pregnancy yet. I’m worrying about this right now, please help. Thanks in advance!

    • Yes, it might help if you tell your lawyer. If he will tell the court, they might expedite your case because of this. Keep in mind though that your husband will then of course find out about it as well.

      Even if you give birth before the divorce is final, the paternity can be sorted out, particularly if the actual father cooperates.

      • ML says:

        Thanks for your prompt reply! I was told that if the divorce will be done after the baby is born. Three of us (my husband, new partner and me) can go to the authority and my husband has to declare he is not the father. Anyway the baby’s last name will first be written my husband’s last name on the birth certificate and we can change it to my new partner’s last name later but the original last name can never be deleted, is that right? Besides, I don’t mind to go to the authority twice (once with my husband once with my new partner) but I really don’t want to go with both men at the same time. Do u know if case I don’t hear anything from the court before my due date, can I go separately with them to declare everything?

      • Before I take a lot of time to respond to these questions in detail, I suggest your lawyer tries to get the divorce expedited based on the pregnancy. If it works, fine. If not, we will cross that bridge when we get there.

      • ML says:

        Sorry Andreas,

        Do u mind if I ask one more question? I called the lawyer this morning and he didn’t sound like he will help me (my husband is the Antragsteller, and we are sharing the same lawyer). So I called the court after and the lady there suggests me to write a “Abtrennung vorsorgungsausgleich”. She explained something about my german isn’t good enough to understand. Could u tell me what is this please? Does it mean I should give up something for instance some money which I may suppose to receive? Thanks in advance!

      • Now I understand why your divorce might be taking so long. The court is working on distributing your pension rights. That usually takes a while because they have to get the information from all the retirement insurance schemes that either of you have contributed to during the marriage.

        You have two options at this point in time:
        (a) Get your own lawyer.
        (b) Talk to your husband openly and see if he is willing to instruct his lawyer accordingly. After all, it also shouldn’t be in your husband’s interest to be considered the legal father of a child which is not his.

  61. elizabeth says:

    I’m an EU citizen and married a German citizen 4 years ago. He has been divorced from his German wife for 12 years before we got married. He is a pensioner and his ex wife gets 50% of his gov pension. If she has to die before him, will he get the other 50% back? He told me that when he dies I’ll be entitled for percentage of his pension. I was a teacher in my country where we live but due to health problems now I’m on disability pension and I only get 480 euros a month. We don’t live in Germany but in a EU country. Is this true please? Thanks

  62. elizabeth says:

    I’m Maltese and I never lived in Germany. Thanks

  63. ML says:

    Hi Andreas,

    Don’t know if my coming questions will cross the border, but we’re very helpless now and I just give a try!  Thanks in advance if you could help.  

    My boyfriend has 2 kinds (6 & 9), divorced,  paying approx.  600€ child support to his ex. who works full-time (she has her own kindergarten) and get paid normally.   My boyfriend got fired (his company has no money) and will be unemployed starting from September.  His wage is now 1850€ and will get around 1250€ “Arbeitslosengeld” from Sep.  I’m pregnant with him and our child will be born in October.   He bought a house some years ago and is paying 900€ for the mortgage.  Unfortunately he isn’t able to afford it anymore due to the child support therefore he rents it out to two families which makes his mortgage just equal.  He is now living in his dad’s place for free.  Besides he needs to pick up and bring back his kids from other city which is about 150km away every 2 weekends from where he, his ex & kids used to live together.   ( so one weekend he needs to drive 150km x 4 times on his own cost).  His life is really hard at the moment and since he will be soon unemployed and wanted to know if he still has to pay that 600€ child support?  He called Jugendamt but seemed like they are not happy to help.  Do you have any suggestions what he can do?  Hiring a lawyer is not affordable for him unfortunately.   Any non profitable organisations in Germany which can provide help and support?  

    Hope you can help!  



    • Child support obligations change with changing financial abilities of course. What he would need to do depends on whether there is a court order or other enforceable document.

      The expenses for the contact with the children can also be deducted from his income for the purpose of child support calculation.

      I am keeping this reply brief because I’d like to set up a separate list of FAQ on child support. I’ll do that as soon as someone mails me a book from my wishlist for that effort.

  64. elizabeth says:


  65. Doris says:

    Hi, am Kenyan working in German, I pay tax every month. Am woundering can not get kinder geld while I pay school fees for my children in kenya, pls help me what shall I do, I need kindergeld. Doris

  66. Doris says:

    Hi! My Kenyan girlfriend marriage Australia man, she was visited once she lives in Kenya, she is a housewife. Now she need a work permit to work in Australia. What doe’s she suppose to do?

  67. Paul says:

    Hi Andreas,
    I was a student in Germany and had a son with a German girl. Upon graduation I began working in the middle east and started sending €350 a month as a minimum. I have done that for the last 2 months. My sons mother lives completely off welfare but will start an ausbildung paying her €500 a month from this month. She has told me I have to submit all my financial information because she will get in trouble if the German government sees that I am sending her money. I will continue to send money for my son but I do not want to submit my information to a country which I do not live in, and cannot even enter without applying for a visa (I have citizenship in a Caribbean island). My question is: do I have to send my information or is this something she can work out with the German authorities? Thank you and best regards,

    • First of all, if you have a son in Germany you could even get a long-term residence permit for Germany (§ 28 I AufenthG) if you could get shared custody.

      Regarding the child support, I’d like to open a separate thread because it really has nothing to do with divorce and there are already more than 150 comments on this thread. I’ll set up FAQ on child support as soon as someone will send me a book from my wishlist in order to do so.

  68. micheal says:

    Hello, i seeked alsylum 18months ago,but Im legallly married here in Germany for four months with a German lady. My qustion is can i still be sent out of the country if my alsylum request is regected? thanks

    • As this has nothing to do with divorce, it would be better to post this on my FAQ on asylum law or on residence permits for Germany. I will put them up once somebody mails me a book from my wishlist in order to motivate me.

  69. Ben says:

    Hello Mr Moser,

    I am English and my wife is American, can we divorce in Germany or can we choose which country of which the rules should apply. ie) can we get divorced in the US and simply get the paper work rubber stamped in Germany. As we did for our marriage.

    If it is in Germany, We have agreed a financial split, would this agreement simply be accepted by the German authorities ? Or would they decide who gets what ?


  70. Gwapito says:

    Hi Andreas,

    You’ve been very helpful to many people. Thank you for spending time to answer all the queries from us people you don’t even know. May God Bless you.

    By the way here’s my situation. I am a Filipino student here in Germany and I was separated from my wife 3 years ago. We were married in the Philippines. I have a girlfriend right now (also a Filipino Student). My question is, can I file a divorce against my previous wife here in Germany and marry my girlfriend here? There is no divorce in the Philippines, Only annulment.

    Once again, thank you very much and more power to you!

    • Yes, because you are a resident in Germany you can file for divorce in Germany. It will take a bit longer than a normal divorce proceeding because the court will have to serve your wife with the divorce paperwork in the Philippines (unless she agrees to hire a lawyer or appoint a representative in Germany). So don’t plan the new wedding yet! ;-)

      • Gwapito says:

        Dear Andreas,

        Wonderful! Thank you so much for your apt reply. I better think of settling this issue first before I plan the wedding LOL :).

  71. Natasha says:

    Hallo Andreas,

    Thank you so much for helping people here with some peace of advice and how to deal with their problems, well am a Kenyan too, been married to a Germany since one yrs , I have a child from my passed relation and she lives here with us but life is not good with this man though the country is beautiful, I really would want to separate and may be divorce but I don’t know how the law is about this, will I be kicked out with my child and am 2months pregnant but he wants me to get rid of the baby which I can not do no matter what, I wanna keep my baby and I want to stay in Germany to raise my kids in case the second comes out. please I need ur advice, one thing for sure is I can not live with him any more.

    thank you

    • Generally, you need to be married and live in Germany for 3 years in order to retain a residence permit after a separation (§ 31 I Nr. 1 AufenthG). But exceptions can be made in order to avoid a special hardship (§ 31 II AufenthG). I would argue that pregnancy is such a special hardship, in particular as your child will have German citizenship based on the German father and you could then return to Germany and base your residence permit on your child (§ 28 I Nr. 3 AufenthG). It would be silly to ask you to leave Germany now when you could return once your child will be born. Given that a dispute about your residence status would probably take longer than it will take for your baby to show up (7 months), I think it’s safe to say that you would be able to remain in Germany.

  72. Natasha says:

    Thank you so much Andereas, pls guide me again if I separate with my husband before divorce am I supposed to go back to my country or I can keep around during the separation, if yes how do I do it to separate, and if not can I go home during the separation and will he support me and my pregnancy, if am here or not here. And one more qn pls can I keep around with my family bse I have relatives here.

  73. Pingback: 10 FAQ on Freedom of Movement in the EU | The Happy Hermit

  74. nadia says:

    Hello my friend from the German of Turkish origin wants to divorce his wife on a separate year and half ago and gave all the papers to a lawyer, but his wife refused and did not provide any paper and Thanks

  75. Nolan Ramage says:

    Good Day Mr. Moser!
    I have a slightly complicated situation. I am an Australian, and married a German citizen in Australia in July 2010. We moved to Berlin together in August 2011, at which point I was granted a visa until the 1st March 2015. We have been married for over four years now and I have resided in Germany for over three years. We have begun to grow apart and have decided to get an amicable divorce, but as I have established a life here, I would very much like to stay. I do not wish to be naturalised, as I will not give up my Aussie passport, so what are my options? Can I change from a marriage visa to a settlement visa? What options do I have relating to residency after getting divorced?
    Thank you Sir for your time.

    • Hello Nolan,
      after living together with a German spouse in Germany for 3 years, you are entitled to your own independent residence permit (§ 31 I Nr. 1 AufenthG). This residence permit will be granted for one year at first, after which time your status will depend on what you do (work, study, business) and your financial situation.

      • Nolan Ramage says:

        Okay! Wonderful, thank you. And do I have to prove current working status in Germany at the time of application? I have been doing some contract chef work in France for the last seven months, returning to Berlin in mid November.

  76. Dianna says:

    Hi Andreas, I am getting divorced in Cyprus on 5 November and wish to remarry on 18 November, there is a waiting period of 42 days after the hearing in Cyprus. Can I get married in another country before the waiting period is over and will this marriage be considered valid?

    • What citizenship do you and your prospective spouse have? Where do you want to get married and where do you want to live?

      • Dianna says:

        I am South African and my prospective spouse is German, we want to marry in Denmark and e wish to live in the UK, Ireland, or Germany. I would really appreciate you advice.

      • My advice is to wait and postpone the wedding.

        If your marriage will be voidable, you will run into all kinds of problems regarding spousal visas, if you ever have children, when one of you dies, when you divorce. Even if you won’t experience any problems, your children might in the future because if you are not legally married, they won’t automatically get the father’s citizenship for example.

        Don’t do it, in particular because there is no need to hurry.

  77. Michael says:

    Hi. Andreas I am an in need of a copy of my divorce decree granted by a Court in Berlin, Germany in 1995 or 1996. Either I
    never received a copy or I lost it. My German wife filed there after being married here in the USA. It was an amicable divorce and now my Pension Plan informed me that they need a signed copy of the divorce decree before they can process my retirement application. I do have some of the paperwork including the case number. What is the best way to proceed?

  78. julia says:

    Hi Andreas, can you give me an idea of typical costs of creating an ehevertrag in Germany? I am from the US, and my partner is German. Also, what is the difference between going to a lawyer, and to a Notar? Will the notar help us draft an agreement, or simply witness the document? And is it possible to limit the duration of an ehevertrag? Can we say, for example, that the agreement becomes invalid, or changes in some way, if we are still married in 5 years? Neither of us has any assets to speak of, and I have significant student loan debt in the US, which I will be paying off for probably the next 20 years. I am currently unemployed, but when I find work, it is likely that I will earn more than my partner. We each have the possibility of inheritences, however, in the future, and I would like to keep those entirely separate.
    Thank you for you generosity in providing so much information on this page! It has been very helpful already!

    • In Germany, notaries are lawyers, so the notary will also help you draft it. I honestly have no idea about fees nowadays, but notaries usually don’t compete on fees, so it will be the same everywhere.

      Of course you can put a time limit on it, that’s actually quite a good idea.

      If German law were to apply in a divorce, you wouldn’t need to worry about inheritance as it would not become community property. Nonetheless, an “Ehevertrag” is usually a good idea, if only because it forces you think about all of these issues beforehand, and you can choose and pick what you like from codified law and what you want to amend and tailor to your own situation.

  79. May says:

    Hi Andrea,
    My husband and I are both holding Belgian citizenship. With our three kids, we have been living in Germany for 11 years.
    Can I apply the divorce in Germany and following the German law? In my 14 years marriage, most of time have been living in Germany. Kids are also going to German school.

    • Yes. Because you both live in Germany, German has jurisdiction and the application of German law is the default choice (Art. 8 a Rome III Regulation).

      • May says:

        Dear Andreas,
        Thank you very much for your quick reply.
        Because Belgian Embassy in Berlin told my husband we only allow to follow the belgian family law if we get divorce in Gemany, which worried me.
        I also have been told by a belgian lawyer in Brussel, that I have to hire two lawyers ( one in Belgium and one in Germany) to represent me. Can I just find one German laywer for the divorce?
        Sorry have to trouble you again. Thank you.

      • One lawyer is more than enough.

  80. May says:

    Thanks! Now I am more confident to continue the divorce process.

  81. Ben says:

    Dear Andreas,

    My wife and I are happy to use one Lawyer to facilitate our divorce. Why are the fee’s so complicated ? The type of answers I am getting from layers are as follows:

    Lawyer 1:
    “There is a degressive table of the fees according to the value. The value is mainly determined by
    the income of three months. There is an additional value for each child, high assets and the pension adjustment depending on the number of funds involved. At a value of 10.000 EUR the lawyers fees would be around EUR 1,600.–, at 20.000 it would be 2,120.–. The court costs are about half as much.”

    Lawyer 2:
    ” fees are basically governed according to our assets.”

    Thanks for your advice.

    • I never made it that complicated for my clients and simply charged a flat fee or an hourly fee with an upper limit. But I can’t comment on the fees that other lawyers charge. Unfortunately, most lawyers are not very customer-friendly in this respect.

  82. Eloisa Labahn says:

    Hallo Mr. Moser,
    Im married with a german nationality but the ceremony took place in Philippines. So many stories arises that really scares me because i have a child. Were still leaving in a same roof but no sexual contact, no same activities for two years. I told him im planning to move in other apartment but he doesnt say anything. Im thinking what is better to file a divorce here in Germany.(but some said if ever i couldn’t get marry in germany) Or annulment in my country.

    • If you both live in Germany, Germany is really the only country that has jurisdiction for your divorce. It will also be much easier to have your husband served with paperwork.
      It doesn’t matter that you got married outside of Germany (see no. 1 of the FAQ above).

  83. Rune says:

    I am a EU citizen, natural born US citizen. May I bring my 23 year old child to live in the EU legally?

    • That has really nothing to do with divorce law in Germany, has it?

      I recommend my FAQ on freedom of movement within the EU, but I would need to know which citizenship you have, in which country you live, what you do there, what citizenship your child has and what he/she would want to do in the desired country of residence.

  84. Sageena Thakur says:

    Hi, I just have a query. I have am aunt in Germany and she has an Indian passport with an indefinit visa to stay in the country and has been living in Germany for the last 14 years or so. Is there a possibility that she may be able to get a German passport.

    Any help you maybe able to provide is greatly appreciated.

    Yours sincerely,
    Sageena Thakur

  85. Tautu Gabriela says:

    Hi Andreas,
    ca you help me with your advice ? My sister( she is from Romania) is married with her German husband for about 17 years ( they married in Germany, but even now she’s just a resident because he never filled the paper for citizen), they live in heidelberg and they have 2 children ( 16 and 12 years old ). My sister , after she had the second child became mentally ill ( schitzofrenia ) . It took 3 years to go with her to the doctors ( just because the police and child protection get involve ) , now she’ s barelly functional because she start to drink too and as is expected things are hard for children and him . So he want to divorce and he said that she can’t afford to have an attorney and he won’t give her more than 400 euro/ month ( that won’t cover her medicine ) even his salary is over 10.000 euro/month ( he works in IT ) and if i want to take her it’s ok , if not he doesn’t care if she lives on streets. I want to take her , but my situation , here in Romania is not very good ( I’m a single mom , with 2 children and a salary of 200 euro / month). So my question is : can he divorce after 17 years and let her at the mercy of fate, with nothing . Any advice will be appreciated .

    Yours sincerely,
    Gabriela T.

    • First of all, I have to address the misconception that your sister’s husband could have done anything to give her German citizenship: He can’t. She needs to apply for naturalization by herself and nobody can prevent her from doing so.

      Now to your question: Based on the length of the marriage, your sister’s bad health and the enormous discrepancy in income, your sister would be entitled to receive alimony for the time of the separation and probably also for at least a few years after the divorce.

      Your sister should hire an attorney in Germany. She is eligible for legal aid, meaning the state will pay the attorney’s and court fees.

      Generally, your sister should act more independently. She is not at the mercy of her husband. She has rights. In family law, it makes no difference if she is German or Romanian. I don’t know what type of residence status she has, but as long as they keep at least shared custody over the children, she is already entitled to a residence permit based on that (§ 28 I AufenthG).

      • Tautu Gabriela says:

        Thank you very much ! We will try to search for legal aid.

        Have a nice day

        Gabriela T

  86. Tony F. says:

    Hi Andreas,

    I’m going to ask the question first and then explain the circumstance. I’ve been directed by the German Court in Berlin to show up for the final Divorce proceedings. What are valid excuses “wichtige Gruende” that would excuse me from having to show up in person? I’m american and live in the U.S. My wife is german and lives in Germany. She filed for the divorce and we’re finally to the point where we’ve both received the inivitation where we show up and tell the judge that we in fact really do want the divorce and then he signs the papers. However, I live in the U.S. and do not have the money for a plane ticket besides the fact that I can’t take off from University or work. Thank you for your help!


    • 1) I’ve represented hundreds of Americans in German court who didn’t show up for the divorce hearing (it’s a 30-minute hearing at most, so it’s hardly worth the flight), and although the judges were sometimes angry, they always granted the divorce. This will be the case even more so if your wife really wants the divorce.
      2) You could explain to the court that you can’t afford the flight and ask for legal aid, asking them to pay the flight. Then the court will think long and hard if your personal presence is really necessary.
      3) You can let the court know in writing that you also want the divorce, that you have no objections against your wife’s petition and that you have no financial claims against her.
      4) If you have exams or important classes at university that might be a good reason. If you have already used up all your holidays and would need to quit your job in order to be available that would be a good reason as well.

      These letters by the German courts are standardized letters which they mail to every respondent in every case. They are not tailored to your specific case. Therefore they don’t need to be taken as seriously as they sound. If you undertake one or several of the aforementioned steps, the judge will probably be satisfied.

  87. alex says:

    Hi Mr Moser,
    i have been living with my german wife in germany for 3 years after getting a 3 years residance permit (aufenthaltserlaubnes).our marriage was interrupted in the last year and i was denied my one year residance extention,but after me and wife decided to reconsile,i was told that i will be granted a residence permit for another 3 years,in which our marriage should be persisted otherwise i wont have to right to live in germany, and my question is,when can i apply for the german citizenship?

  88. Ella says:

    Hello Mr. Moser,

    We are a Canadian couple, also EU citizens, living in Germany. We are planning to get married in Denmark (having all of the required papers). We are not signing a prenuptial agreement but still want to know, in case that things do not work for us in the future, can we divorce in Denmark if we are not residents? Thank you very much!

    • No.
      If both of you will live in Germany at that time, only Germany will have jurisdiction over your divorce. If you will live in different countries, it will depend on who has lived where for how long.

  89. léa says:

    Hello Mr Moser,
    After one and a half year marriage, i would like to separate from my husband ( who is german , and i not). Unfortunately I am financially dependant on him as i did not work here, so having no income, and no family here leaves me wih no coice than staying in the same house..Still i find this unbearable..Is there any help that i can get so that i may move out ? (I got the German Pass after our wedding) I also don´t have the money to buy a ticket to go back to my country ( being 12,000 km far from germany, a ticket then costs a lot).

    Thank you

    • If you are a German citizen, all the financial help that you need to sustain your own household is available to you. You should inquire with your local town/municipality whether they offer social housing.

  90. okde says:

    Hi Andreas,

    What happens when a guy gets divorced let us say in December, and changes his class from III to I, does he have to pay back the tax to the authorities for the whole year?

    I know that you get tax back when you change your tax class from I to III after getting married.

    I hope this question belongs to the FAQ and thanks very much for providing all this info in such clear English :)

    Best wishes for the new year.

  91. Ben says:

    Hi Andres,

    My wife (US Citizen) and I (British Citizen) got married in the USA (2007) but have lived in Germany for 15 years. The marriage paper work subsequently was filed in Germany. We now would like to divorce. Can we return to the USA get the divorce and then file the paper work, as we did for our marriage.


    • Germany would not recognize that divorce because the US does not have international jurisdiction over your divorce because none of you lives there. If you try that, you run the risk of being divorced in the USA, but not in Germany and/or the UK. This will lead to numerous problems in the future.

      It usually is also much cheaper to get divorced in Germany (unless you could do it without lawyers in the USA).

  92. honey says:

    I got married last year in november in denmark. now i haven’t german visa. now i cant go in german. can i get divorce ..! i didn’t pass german language test .. and embassy refused my visa.! please tell me what can i do ..! can we get divorce ? Thanks

    • That depends on where you live and where your spouse lives.

      • honey says:

        now im in italy and she is in german

      • In Germany, you can only file for divorce if you have been separated for one year. That means you have to wait until November.
        In Italy it’s even harder to get a divorce, so that’s no alternative.
        But if you are in Italy legally, you can always visit Germany. Both countries are in Schengen, you don’t need a visa for visits.
        And of course you could try the German language test again. You only need A1 level, that’s very basic.

  93. honey says:

    but i haven’t italy visa too ..its expired on January 19.

    • honey says:

      can i not get divorce brfore one year? and if i will get married in india without divorce.is it any problem .!

      • There are a lot of issues in play here, divorce, immigration law, possibly freedom of movement, renewed marriage and so on. We would need to talk about your case, also for me to find out what your priorities are.
        I charge 200 EUR for a consultation.

  94. honey says:


  95. Mo says:

    Hi there,
    I’m sorry if someone has already asked you this but I’d like to know how to proceed. My husband is German but I am not and do not have citizenship, we have two underaged children and I wish to get a separation because I think that he has committed a crime against me. He has deleted the evidence and lies but I catch him out over and over again. I would like custardy of the kids, both of whom are German citizens but I’m afraid that if I am not a German citizen, then he will get custody. Is there any truth in that or is there anything which I can do to change it? We have been living together in Germany for over two years now.


  96. jackie says:

    My husband and I are both UK citizens. When we married he did not declare to the registrar (or me) that he had been married twice before in Germany. Does this make the marriage legal, and is there any way that I can check that he is definately divorced from his German spouses.

    • 1) If you married and live in the UK, the legality of your marriage depends on British law. If your husband had been divorced by the time you got married, then your marriage is definitely legal. There are no consequences for lying about factors like past marriages.

      2) In Germany, there is no central register. You would need to contact the municipality where your husband last lived and ask them if they had him listed as married or divorced.

      3) However, this is not completely foolproof either, because he might have gotten divorced in another country and forgotten to inform the German authorities.

      4) You would really need to know more about the past spouses, the places where he lived, and so on, to make absolutely certain.

      5) But the easiest way is probably to ask your husband.

  97. Ben says:


    I moved to Germany and married my wife in 2008. At which point I already had property in France. I sold this property in 2009. Now we are divorcing, is the gain from the property split between us or is regarded mine prior to the marriage ?


  98. jane says:


    I am trying to help a friend who wants to divorce his wife (i have no interest in a relationship with him). He has a net income of 1,600€ per month. They have two children aged 2 and 4.

    from the Dusseldorf table he should be paying 333€ per month per child.

    so , in total, he should be paying his wife in the seperation year approx 1,000€ which leaves him only 600€ per month. (she doesnt work). Is there a minimum amount that the man must be left with per month ?

    i have not calculated in any money paid by the state dor the children.

    thanks for your time

    • The minimum amount that he should be left with is 1,060 € of his net income.
      If there is not enough money to pay child support and alimony, the children have priority.

      • jane says:

        Thankyou for your extremely prompt and also informative answer Andreas ! :)


  99. Taylor says:

    I have a few questions concerning my relationship with my boyfriend who in fact is still married to another woman that lives in (
    Kiel, Germany, (he was born in the US)

    They got married in 2012 In Denmark , he came back to the US 2014 around the mid way of the year, on belief that he was coming here to start a job and get things prepared for them to live in the US, but after month of separation, she decided that she wanted a divorce VIA MOBILE CONTACT . Because she had interest of living here in the US, So now he still resides in the US and we have been together for a few months, she keeps on telling him to file for the divorce because it cist to much there and he’s telling her to do it in there since it would be a faster process.
    ( I dont know if this will be any useful imformation, but hrs Before he left , she enclosed the actually wedding certificate, and the photography book of the wedding like she had this planned beyond his knowledge in his suitcase and found it after plane departure.)

    my concerning questions are,
    Since he’s still married , can he be at fault for openly having another relationship?

    For Us Conceiving a child together?
    ( the baby didn’t make it)

    For him not returning to Germany for the year separation “law” ?

    If he does file for divorce here in the US who will have to pay? Will he be forced to pay Germany or the US… For them to grant the divorce?

    Will he have to make an appearance in front of German Law Court to Get Them to approve of the Divorce?

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