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German Law/U.S. Divorce decree vs. German law


I married a German woman while based in Germany for the U.S. army. We moved back to the U.S., had a child and ultimately, after 12 years of marriage divorced. Our divorce was done in the U.S., along with a child support order and alimony order. After the divorce, she moved back to Germany with our then 8 year old son. Alimony was ordered for 4 years, child support was ordered until the child was 18. My alimony and child support obligations are over as far as my US divorce decree states. I continued to pay child support until he was 20 because I felt it was the right thing to do with him still in high school. He has just started college and I give him 300 euros a month to pay for school. This week I received a letter from his university/ BAfoG stating that I need to pay more or they will bring a civil suit against me. So, my question being, with a U.S. Divorce decree and child support order can Germany just come in and demand more?
Thank you in advance for any answers you may be able to provide.

Hello Glenn,

in this case, both the US and Germany have competing jurisdiction. Because there is no more US judgement in place at present and because your son resides in Germany, he could indeed bring a lawsuit against you in either country.

Under German law, there is a potential support obligation for the time that your son attends university. However, once he has moved out, both you and his mother are liable, so you are not the only stuck with the bill. Also, if he receive BAföG or any other income (scholarship, work, and so on), he has to deduct this first.

Whether you actually have to pay anything depends on your, your son's and your ex-wife's financial situation. Of course you can deduct payments for other dependents and any loans that you are paying off.
- I'd be happy to do this calculation for you and give you many more details and strategic advice, either by e-mail or over Skype, but I would need to charge 200 EUR for such an in-depth consultation. Please feel free to contact me at I can of course also help you with the reply to the university/BAföG-office.

Now the other question would be if your son could enforce such a German court order in the US, but that's a question for a US lawyer in your state.

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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