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German Law/divorce in germany


Hi, I would appreciate if you could provide some information regarding how is the divorce proceedings in Germany. My boyfriend is a German who is currently working in London and have been separated from his wife for 2 years since June 2014 and they have a 4 year old daughter. He has requested for divorce from his spouse several times as he wants to marry me, however his wife refuse to consent to all his divorce request and he is not keen to be aggressive with her regarding the divorce for the sake of maintaining some peaceful environment for his daughter.  Does it mean once he reaches the minimum 3 years of separation, he could file for the divorce and have it finalised even if the other spouse opposes to it? What documents does he have to show proof that they have been separated and can he start to file for divorce while waiting out the minimum 3 years of separation?
Thanks for taking your time to answer my question.

Dear Grace,

he doesn't really need to wait for the 3 years.

After being separated for one year, he can file for divorce and only needs to prove that they have been separated (easy if he lives in another country) and that the marriage has failed ( 1565 I BGB). The consent of the other spouse is NOT necessary. A consensual divorce is only one way to make it easier for the court to determine that the marriage has failed ( 1566 I BGB).

If he files for divorce without the wife's consent, there is really nothing aggressive about it. And it won't involve the daughter at all, unless one of the parents also files a custody petition.
He just has to file a petition for divorce, state when they got separated and express his certainty that they won't get back together again. The judge will then ask the wife if she really believes that there is a chance to get back together again and realistically she'll have to say "no" (or make a fool of herself). Either way, she cannot prevent the divorce.

As proof of separation, there is no formal document. If he moved out, he could show a lease contract or a changed address on phone bills or a bank account, but the court would not ask for any evidence at all in the petition for divorce. Only if there is a dispute about the date of separation, then he would need to provide evidence (or witness statements).

All the best!

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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