Important issues in family law include the law
on marriage, separation and divorce, maintenance
or support for the children and spouse, the law
governing property issues and marriage, the relationship
between legitimate or illegitimate children and
their parents, paternity issues, parental responsibility
or custody and rights of access between parents
and children. An additional focus is the law governing
Divorce is one central aspect of family law.
We can advise you about the conditions attached
to the statutory separation period of a year and
examine the prospects for applying for an immediate
divorce on the grounds of hardship. If you are
seeking to divorce by mutual agreement, we can
help you consider this most cost-effective form
of divorce which requires only one of the spouses
to hire an attorney.
Spousal maintenance and child support
If husband and wife are separated, the partner
who is earning less may have a right to maintenance.
This is set at 3/7 of the income difference. After
a divorce they may have a claim to post-marital
maintenance. Child support can be claimed for
any children the couple may have, the amount being
determined by the rates given by the so-called
Düsseldorf-Index – or in the former
East Germany by the Berlin-Index.
Parental responsibility, custody and access
In the event of a divorce, a settlement has to
be reached concerning the questions of how parental
responsibility, rights of access and contact with
the children will be exercised. In certain circumstances
the family court can award custody to just one
of the parents. Both parents enjoy rights of access.
We can represent your interests together with
those of your child and support you in ensuring
your parental rights for the benefit of your child.
Divorce and property issues
In the event of a divorce it may prove necessary
to decide what will happen to any property or
assets the couple own. It may be that the court
will reallocate assets acquired during the course
of the marriage. Other matters which may require
consideration include the division of household
belongings, the use of the family home and how
to deal with jointly owned houses or apartments.
Reallocation of pension benefits
When dealing with a divorce case, the family
court has a duty to ascertain any pension benefits
acquired by the couple during the course of their
marriage and to ensure their fair reallocation.
Such a reallocation need not be performed if the
couple have excluded it in a marriage contract
or in a separation or divorce agreement. The time
that a divorce by mutual agreement takes may be
reduced considerably if the court does not have
to reallocate pension benefits.
Marriage contracts, separation and divorce agreements
It is possible for partners to conclude a marriage
contract at the time they get married thereby
modifying the statutory regulations. Amongst other
things, a marriage contract can establish a marital
property arrangement other than the statutory
standard where acquired assets are held by both
partners; separation of property, for example.
The spouses can agree to forego any claim to maintenance
in the event of a divorce or to a reallocation
of pension benefits.
Both these and other regulations can also be made
in the form of a separation or divorce agreement
after the marriage has taken place.
Even before getting married, bi-national couples
frequently require advice with regard to the papers
necessary for a marriage in the Federal Republic
of Germany and in obtaining a valid residence
permit for the foreign partner in accordance with
the law on foreign residents (Ausländerrecht>>).
If a bi-national marriage ends in divorce questions
often arise as to the law which must be applied
and whether the divorce can take place in Germany.
The legal regulations concerning both the beginning
and the ending of registered partnerships of same
sex couples have been altered with effect from
1-1-2005, bringing them broadly in line with the
law on marriage and divorce. A number of significant
differences do however still exist. We can ensure
you remain informed.