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Divorce costs - the 10 most important pieces of information about the costs and process of divorce

Updated on by Stefan Banse

How expensive is a judicial divorce? Do i need a lawyer? What is the minimum cost of the divorce? All of these questions will be answered here in the "Divorce Costs" topic. Calculate the total legal and court costs with our divorce cost calculator.

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The most important questions about divorce costs

  • 01.
    When can a marriage be divorced?

    Half of all marriages in Germany are divorced today, most of them only last about 14 years (Statista.com). The registrar certifies the marriage - the family courts, on the other hand, are responsible for the divorce. The prerequisite for this is that the partners no longer live together. The marriage must be so shattered that no improvement can be expected. The legal basis can be found in the Civil Code, Paragraph 1565. Married couples must prove with a year of separation that the marriage will no longer last.

  • 02.
    Which court is competent?

    The local family courts are responsible for all marriages concluded in Germany. This only applies if both spouses are German citizens. If one of the two is a foreigner, the laws of other countries may apply. If both partners in Germany live in the same judicial district, the family court located here is responsible. Otherwise, Paragraph 122 of the Family Law defines a ranking for the responsibilities.

  • 03.
    Who can file for divorce?

    Either spouse can hire a lawyer to file the application for divorce. Today it is no longer examined who is “to blame” for the breakdown of the marriage. The application for divorce may only be submitted at the end of the year of separation. If the partners were able to agree on an amicable divorce, this must be stated in the application. If not, requests are made immediately on follow-up matters such as child custody, maintenance and pension adjustment. The court then serves the divorce petition on the other partner.

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  • 04.
    How does the divorce date work in court?

    Shortly after receiving the application for divorce, the court sends the applicant its cost statement. If the latter is not entitled to legal aid, the court will only take action after its fees have been paid. Preparing for divorce in the family court can take several months. Then the court determines a date on which both partners and their lawyers must appear. After the process participants have been called, the judge first checks the spouses' personal details. Then the court clarifies whether the year of separation has expired and the marriage has actually broken down. Subsequently, the pension adjustment will be clarified and all other follow-up matters will be assessed. If the divorce is pronounced, it is immediately final if both partners have hired a lawyer.

  • 05.
    Do you save if you divorce amicably?

    If both partners consent to the divorce, the marriage can be divorced by mutual consent. For this, all important things must have been settled in advance, such as the division of the joint property, child and spouse maintenance. There should also already be an agreement on custody of common children and on pension equalization. Legal advice on this ensures that all legal consequences are observed. All of these legal consequences can be regulated in a divorce consequences agreement. A visit to the notary is also necessary for some details. The amicable divorce saves a lot of time, often only one court appointment is necessary. Only the applicant's lawyer is required. Its costs are then shared.

  • 06.
    Do you have to hire a lawyer?

    In the case of divorce, only the applicant is obliged to be represented by a lawyer. In the case of an amicable divorce, the other partner does not need his own lawyer. However, as soon as there is a dispute over details, professional assistance is recommended. Don't be afraid of the cost of this - low-income earners can apply for legal aid.

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  • 07.
    What does a divorce cost?

    Legal divorce costs fees. In addition to the court costs, the lawyer has to be paid.

    The calculation is based on the value in dispute or the litigation value - and this is higher the more assets have to be divided up. The court sets a value in dispute of at least 2,000 euros for each divorce proceeding. All fees are staggered; there are detailed tables for this. Lawyers charge procedural fees (1.3 times the fee rate according to the table) and appointment fees (1.2 times the fee rate). In addition, there are flat rates for post and telephone and VAT.

    This is how the process value is determined
    Triple the net income of the first partner
    + Triple the net income of the second partner
    - Allowance of 250 euros per month for each child
    + 5 percent of the assets (reduced by an exemption of around 60,000 euros, which is determined by the family court)
    = Value in dispute or litigation

    So divorces can get really expensive, and you should expect costs in the four-digit range.

  • 08.
    Is it Cheaper to Divorce Online?

    Many lawyers today offer their services on the Internet. However, a pure online divorce is not possible. The procedure is carried out at the locally competent court. Read all the details about online divorce in our guide article.

  • 09.
    Pension equalization - what is it?

    Different pension entitlements that arose during the marriage should be balanced out between the spouses. For this purpose, the pension overviews are requested from the insurance companies and the earnings points that have been added during the marriage are determined. The pension settlement of the claims is then carried out by transferring them to the pension account of the ex-partner. You can find detailed information in our article on pension adjustment.

  • 10.
    When do I have to pay maintenance?

    Cash maintenance obligations arise for minor children or adults who are still economically dependent. The former partner is entitled to maintenance for a limited period of time if he is looking after children up to three years of age. After that he has to contribute to his livelihood himself, at least through part-time work. Spousal support, as was customary in the past, is now only granted in exceptional cases.

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In particular, we used the information from the following sources for the topic of "divorce costs":

Last update on April 11th, 2021

The pages of the topic "Divorce Costs" were last editorially checked on April 11th, 2021 by Stefan Banse. They are all up to date.

Previous changes on December 19, 2020

  • December 19, 2020: Adjustments to the divorce cost calculator and the calculation examples to the increased legal and court costs approved by the Federal Council in 2021.
  • October 28, 2020: Comprehensive guide on the subject of advance maintenance payments.
  • June 21, 2020: Consideration of the reduction in VAT from 19 to 16 percent on the lawyer's fees to be calculated for the 2nd half of 2020 in the divorce cost calculator
  • Editorial revision of all texts in this subject area