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FAMILY LAW

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 registered partnerships.


Divorce

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 rights

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.

Bi-national marriages

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.

Registered partnerships

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.

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