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QUESTION: Hello Andreas,

I am married to a German and are living now since 4 years in Germany. We were married over 6 years ago in my homeland (non EU) but our marriage was legalized here. Since we came here my husband has no job and we were on social help till i learned German and recently found a "well paying" job. Now I pay all expenses of living and we do not get ANY help from the state. We have a 4 year all child who goes to Kindergarten. My question is, in case I file for divorce, do I have to pay something for my husband. He keeps telling me I will have to pay him his expenses at least in the separation year, plus all expenses for divorce i.e. lawyer, court..etc. I don't know if that is so, or he is only trying to scare me, although I will take this step sooner or later anyway!
I read a little about the laws but it seems to suppose that the husband is the one who is making money and the wife is the one not working plus has the child, so the husband has to pay for his wife and child. In my case it is the other way around, but of course our child will stay with me. I find it not fair to pay for a person who is in the German law called the family "Oberhaupt", and actually should be the one who is supporting the family!! Instead now I have to pay him and for my kid?!!

SO what happens now when I decide, that is it, I want him out of the flat now?

Thank you for your advice and best regards.

ANSWER: Hello Ingy,

the German family law is actually written in a way that it accommodates non-traditional forms of income distribution in a family. That is why the husband can also be entitled to alimony from the wife if the wife earns more than the husband.

This is especially true for the separation, which usually lasts at least one year.
however you could (try to) argue that your husband caused his lack of income himself. What the court would make of that would depend on his prior employment history and his qualifications. But as you managed to earn more, despite being the foreign spouse, and while raising a child, you should have considerable sympathy from the judge.

After the divorce, your husband would be expected to find employment himself - unless he would be the one taking care of your child.

If you want him out of the flat and he doesn't go voluntarily, you would need to get a court order awarding the flat (its use, not the ownership) to you (and your child). You should have good chances for that because he is not working, so he can live anywhere else (with his parents, or friends or just move to something paid by the welfare agency), whereas you want to remain close to your workplace and to the kindergarten.

I wish you all the best!

Andreas Moser

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you very much Andreas,

I would like to know, is there a maximum amount/ percentage of money I would be obliged to pay him if any? I mean I read about that but it isn't quit clear. I read I keep 1/7 from my income and the rest is shared 50/50!! In other sites I read I am entitled of Euro 1100 plus an amount of money for my child and her Kita, and what's over that he takes. In other cases they wrote the court calculates also my monthly basic expenses, like rent, gas and electricity, plus 1,000 Euro plus my kid's expenses and Kita, what's over that I pay him! I am a bit confused...
And another thing, I pay now tax level 3 cause I am married. Does the tax level change from the time of separation or only once I am legally divorced? That will also make a difference.

Thank you very much for your support and best regards.

Your tax level will change at the beginning of the year after the official separation. Alternatively, you can request that it will be changed to IV at the time of separation already.

Please remember that the tax level is not really relevant to your annual income after taxes, because the final taxes will be calculated at the end of the year. Depending on the tax level applied to your salary, you may receive taxes back or you will have to pay more than had already been deducted from your salary.
By choosing different tax levels, you cannot really gain any advantages over the tax year. (Although you can receive more net pay every month instead of receiving it as one lump sum payment after the end of the year.)

As to the calculation, it depends on too many factors that I could perform it here online: your income, how much you pay in rent, childcare expenses, your husband's earning capabilities, the rent your husband would pay after moving out, debts that either of you are paying off and so on.
You also have to consider that if your husband moves out, he would become liable to pay child support for which the court would put a higher obligation to seek and find work on him.

You see that the calculation depends on a lot of factors, many of which are not yet known. Remember that you can also argue that your husband should not be entitled to any support or to reduced support because of his unwillingness to work ( 1579 BGB).

Andreas Moser

German Law

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Andreas Moser


Extensive experience in international family law, especially international child abductions and child custody cases. All other areas of German law as well: constitutional law, criminal law, business and contract law, immigration law, inheritance law, and so on.


Lawyer in Germany from 2002 to 2009. Lawyer for US Army JAG Corps before. Bar-certified specialisation in family law and in administrative law. Articles and lectures about international and domestic family law.


2000 Law Degree from University of Regensburg, Germany 2002 admitted to the bar (until 2009) 2013 MA Philosophy at the Open University, UK

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