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German Law/assets division in case of divorce


I am an English woman married to a German man and we are living in Germany.
We are currently buying a house,however as it now stands the morgage will be solely in my husbands name. As will the house. He has informed me that I am protected under German marriage law, I am a stay at home mother. And do not earn a wage curently, he said that anything that is paid to the house is equally paid by me, and so in case of divorce, It will be divided, is that true? Or because it is all in his name do I have any legL rights to a part of our home in case of divorce at alater time.

ANSWER: That's a very tricky question because the answer will depend on a lot of unknowns:
- the value of the house at the time of the divorce
- the remaining amount of the mortgage at the time of the divorce
- the laws in place at that time
- the value of your other assets and liabilities

First of all, the mortgage being only in your husband's name is good for you. It means you are not liable for anything and you can just walk away if he can't pay the mortgage anymore. The bank can never come after you.

The house being in his name means that he will be able to keep it. He is and will remain the sole owner.
However, what German divorce law does (in the absence of any prenuptial contract) is to look at how the net value of assets of each of the spouses developed over the time of the marriage. The spouse with a higher increase in net value will have to reimburse the other spouse.
In your case, this means that if your husband manages to pay off most of the mortgage before you divorce, his value has been increased by the part of the house which is not subject to a mortgage anymore. All other things being equal, he would need to compensate you with half of that increase in value. However, the value of the house could of course also decrease.

As you see, everything will depend on a lot of things which are partly unforeseeable, but generally you will be better off if your husband pays towards building up his own property as opposed to him paying rent to a landlord, which is just gone.

Andreas Moser

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

QUESTION: Hello and thankyou for your prompt reply,  I have another question related, we have now decided I will be on the groundbook for the house to an amount of 10%. Does this give me rights in a case of divorce, I mean for example that I have a legal option to discuss staying in the family home,  rather than my husband. Do I have the same legal rights to the house as him when I only have 10%? Thankyou in advance for your help.

The question of who gets to stay in the house in case of a divorce is independent of who owns it. The Family Court can make a decision on who gets to stay and that decision would usually be based on several factors, among which ownership is only one of them. Other factors are: who works closest to the house, how many children do you have, is it easier for the children to stay or to move, which partner can find a new home more easily, and so on.

But such a decision is no decision on ownership. Usually, these decisions are limited to the time until the divorce is finalised.

As to ownership, if you have 10%, you are a co-owner nonetheless. This means that you could at any time push for the sale of the house to liquidate your 10%. If your husband wants to keep the house, you can use this as a bargaining tool and hopefully come to an agreement in which he will buy your 10% share for a price agreed between the two of you.

Make sure that you are not included in the mortgage! It would be really bad if you own 10% of the property but are equally liable for the loan.

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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