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German Law/American divorcing in Germany


QUESTION: Hi Carolin,

My wife has asked for a divorce. I dont want it, but have no choice. We have lived in Germany for almost three years and have two children ages 5 and 2.
My wife and I are US citizens. I also have citizenship in in another EU country, which allows me to be here on a local contract.
Our children are both US citizens and my youngest was born here in Germany.

Does our citizenship have any impact on the laws that would govern our divorce in Germany? How does this process work.

Kind Regards,

ANSWER: Dear Paul,

You have to hire a German family lawyer to file for divorce in your German home town because you lived there together with your wife for the last 3 years. But according to international civil law (Art 17, Art 14 EGBGB) the German judge has to follow the law of your and your wife's home state in the US. So I would recommend that you find a German family lawyer with experience in international divorces.

My partner in Germany and I would be glad to represent you in your divorce. Most of our clients are US citizen and we are familiar with the divorce law of the US states. We represent our clients all over Germany at court. You can contact me at and we can set up a telephone consultation.

Carolin Burgess      

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QUESTION: Thank you for the answer. As a follow up, our US state does not require any separation period prior to divorce and our situation does not meet the minimum threshold for spousal maintenance in our state (we have not been married for 10 years). Will the German courts follow those laws and if so, will the German courts allow us to establish our own negotiated spousal maintenance agreement?

Finally, asset division in our US state is based on the principle of "just and fair" which is different from 50/50 split and also allows for a jury of peers. How do German courts handle those nuances?

Dear Paul,

I would need to discuss the details of your case in person with you. The German support law will apply if you and your wife will continue to live in Germany. Just the divorce has to be done according to US law so if no separation period is required we could file right away. You can contact me at and we can set up a telephone consultation.

Carolin Burgess
German Attorney at Law

German Law

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Carolin Schulz-Burgess


German legal issues on inheritance, divorce, alimony, child custody and support, last wills and testaments, and other problems involving international family and civil law.


I am a certified German laywer with professional experience in both German and American law firms. Since 2001 I have been working independently at my firm, German Legal Services. I have represented hundreds of clients on matters involving US-German legal issues. One of my firm's areas of specialization is in divorce and child support and custody issues between members of the U.S. Armed Forces and German civilians.

World Affairs Council, German Bar Association

North Carolina Bar Association Newsletter

I received my undergraduate and JD degrees both from the University of Wuerzburg, Germany, whose law school is consistently ranked in the top 10 in Germany.

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