Living in a couple with different nationalities, including same-sex couples (marriage, civil or registered partnership, separation, divorce, marital property rights, the rights of cohabitants)

Information about Rights & Duties of #Divorce

Information about Rights & Duties

Living in a couple with different nationalities, including same-sex couples (marriage, civil or registered partnership, separation, divorce, marital property rights, the rights of cohabitants)

Rules on marriage and the recognition of marriage

Marriage is a legal union between two people; polygamous marriage is not possible. Since 2017, it has been possible for marriages to occur not only between a man and a woman, but also between two people of the same gender. Civil partnerships between two people of the same gender instituted before 1 October 2017 remain subject to the German Civil Partnerships Act [Lebenspartnerschaftsgesetz , LPartG]. Only adults may get married (Section 1303 of the German Civil CodeOpens in new window [ Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch , BGB]).

A number of other marriage bans are also set out in law (Sections 1306 to 1308 of the German Civil Code). Foreign nationals wishing to get married in Germany may in certain cases need to provide a certificate from the relevant domestic authority in their home country proving that there are no obstacles to the marriage under the law of the country in question (Section 1309 of the German Civil Code).

The marriage ceremony involves the bride and groom making a personal declaration before a registrar (civil marriage is mandatory in accordance with Sections 1310 et seq. of the German Civil Code and Section 11, para. 2, first and second sentences of the German Personal Status Code [ Personenstandsgesetz ,Opens in new window PStG]).

It is possible to request that a marriage be annulled by a court of law if certain grounds for annulment are present (Section 1313 et seq. of the German Civil Code). A marriage can be annulled if one of the spouses was still a minor at the time of marriage. No annulment is required if one of the spouses was under the age of 16 at the time of marriage, as the marriage is deemed null and void in this case (Section 1303, second sentence of the German Civil Code). Annulment of a marriage is not possible in certain cases (Section 1315 of the German Civil Code), and must be requested in a timely manner (Section 1317 of the German Civil Code).

More detailed information about marriage and annulment can be found in Sections 1303 to 1320 of the German Civil Code, Sections 11 to 16 of the German Personal Status Code and Sections 121 et seq. of the German Act on Procedure in Family Matters and Non-Contentious Matters [ Gesetz über das Verfahren in Familiensachen und in den Angelegenheiten der freiwilligen Gerichtsbarkeit , FamFG].

There are provisions on numerous specific issues in relation to the legal consequences of marriage. These can be found in Sections 1353 to 1563 of the German Civil Code and, in the case of divorce, in Sections 1564 to 1587 of the German Civil Code and the German Act on Maintenance Settlements [Gesetz über den Versorgungsausgleich ]Opens in new window .

If a marriage takes place abroad under foreign law, it is possible to apply for the marriage to be entered in the German register of marriages if at least one of the spouses is a German national (Section 34, para. 1 of the German Personal Status Code). The same applies if a marriage takes place in Germany in accordance with foreign law between two people who are not German nationals, for example in an embassy or consulate (Section 34, para. 2 of the German Personal Status Code).

Moreover, the effectiveness of a marriage that took place abroad can also be confirmed by one of the German family courts (Section 121, no. 3 of the German Act on Procedure in Family Matters and Non-Contentious Matters). Otherwise, separate recognition of marriages having taken place under foreign law is not required.

In accordance with Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003Opens in new window (Brussels IIa Regulation), in the case of actions relating to matrimonial matters being decided on by a court in another country (confirmation of whether or not a marriage is effective, annulment, divorce), such decisions must be recognised without the need for separate proceedings if they were taken by a court in another EU Member State (excluding Denmark) and if none of the bars to recognition set out in the Regulation apply. Otherwise, such court decisions must be recognised by way of separate proceedings in order to be effective in Germany (Section 107 of the German Act on Procedure in Family Matters and Non-Contentious Matters).

The applicable national legislation on separation and divorce is in line with Regulation (EC) No 1259/2010Opens in new window (Rome III Regulation), according to which the spouses may in principle decide what law shall apply.

Further information

Available online in German and English.

https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bgb/index.htmlOpens in new window

https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/pstg/index.htmlOpens in new window

Brochure of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection [ Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz ]

' Das EherechtOpens in new window ' ['Marriage Law']  (pages 10 to 14, available in German)

Responsible for the content
Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection

Last update or date of publication
23.09.2020