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German Law/Complicated Divorce Question


Mr. Moser,

I am an American who has a German residence permit and has been in Germany as a civilian with a residence permit since 1999.  My wife is Ecuadorian and came to Germany in 2010 and we also married through the Standesamt that year.  My wife is now in the US and I am currently here in Germany and we are looking at options for divorce.  We have a daughter who was born here in Germany also in 2010.  Can you provide any kind of advice on how this can be accomplished with my wife in the US and me being here in Germany?  Thanks in advance.

Hello Rodney,

you basically have two options: filing in Germany and filing in the US.

Germany has jurisdiction because you live there ad both of you last lived there together.

The US (or a particular state) may have jurisdiction, depending on how long your wife has been a resident there already.

If you were to file in Germany, the German court would serve your wife in the US (unless she appoints an attorney or another person in Germany to receive paperwork for her). She would then be invited to attend, but the divorce would also go ahead if she didn't. German divorce law is relatively simple: you need to be separated for one year, then the court can grant the divorce. The judge is no interested in what happened why or any other details.

In a German divorce, the court won't make any ruling on child custody or any financial or property matters unless one of the parties asks the court to do so.

Jurisdiction over anything relating to your daughter lies solely with the country in which she resides, irrespective of citizenship or where the divorce takes place.

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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