Argh. Your marriage has come to a practical end and how to get it legally ended!


My ex-husband and I both have the same foreign citizenship and have recently moved to Germany. We were divorced by a court in our home country. An official at our municipality told us that he needs a formal declaration from the German authorities that officially acknowledges our divorce.

Yes, you do need a formal decision from the German authorities to acknowledge your divorce (Art. 7 §1 FamRÄndG). This is really only important if you want to remarry here in Germany. Be sure to bring along a certified translation of your divorce judgment and a copy of the original.    

I am from an Islamic Country, as is my wife. I am fed up with her. Therefore, I divorced her by telling her loud and clear “Ta­laq! Ta­laq! Ta­laq!” in my apartment in Klein­kot­zi­gen. Her attorney has informed me that this type of private divorce is invalid here. She is demanding support. At home, my divorce is perfectly legitimate. As I know, our national law rules our divorce. Who’s right?

Her lawyer. It is true that in most cases the validity of a divorce is subject to the laws that rule the marriage. However, in Germany, only a court can divorce a married couple. Private divorces, such as the one you tried, will only be accepted in Germany if all acts were done abroad, i.e. in the home country of the couple, or alternatively in another country that recognizes private divorces. Your repudiation as a valid divorce process violates fundamental principles of German law and is therefore illegal. In other words, your wife has good rights to demand support.

I want to get rid of my spouse and I want a divorce. Supposing I am subject to German law, how do I get the divorce?

The main thing is to be sure that you have been living as separated long enough. The one and only reason for divorce is simple: failure of the marriage (§1565 I 1 BGB). Proof of failure can be shown in two ways:

  • one year of separation has passed and both spouses agree on divorce, or
  • three years of separation have passed without mutual consent of the spouses on becoming divorced (§1566 BGB).          
Who gets the kiddies when we are divorced? I would like to know who will keep the child after our divorce? My husband is German. We all live in Germany. Who will have more chances to keep the child? Will the judge favor my ex because he’s a German? Somebody told me my ex could automatically get the child's custody because it's a German kid with German father. Is this true

Relax. After a divorce, you not only remain the parent of your child but also remain in parental custody of your child. §§1626 II, 1671 BGB will only allow that one parent to have sole custody if
  • both parents agree on who is to have custody, unless your child is over 14 and countermands your, the parents, decision,
  • it can expected that granting one parent sole custody will be better for the little one.

Never will the citizenship of one parent make the decision! The judge will take a look how you are socialized. And, the judge will also investigate your ex’s situation.

  • Does he have a job?
  • How much does he earn?
  • Will that income be enough for him and the child?
  • Where do the kid’s best friends live?
  • Where is the child’s school?
  • How can the school be reached?
  • Long or short distances? Is there a dangerous street to be crossed?
  • What does the child think and or want?
  • Does the child prefer to live with a certain parent?
  • Is his apartment big enough?

These are just a few and the most important questions the judge will want to have answered. The court will usually not put a child in the custody of somebody the child does not want to be with. 

Relevant Checklists:

Checklist: Documents to Confirm your Divorce

Additional information