Formal recognition of foreign divorce decrees

If your marriage was divorced outside of Germany, you can have this decision formally recognized in Germany.

According to the general principles of state and international law, judgments and comparable State acts in principle have direct legal effects only in the territory of the State in which they were issued. Each state is free to decide whether and, if so, under what conditions it recognizes foreign acts of sovereignty, unless it is bound by international treaties.

Foreign judgments by which a marriage is annulled, annulled, divorced after or while the marriage bond was maintained or which established the existence or non-existence of a marriage between the parties must be recognised. In particular, foreign divorce decrees are affected, but also comparable decisions of (for example, Russian) administrative authorities or so-called private divorces before religious courts such as the Arab Sharia courts or the rabbinical courts in Israel as well as divorce declarations before a Thai registry office.

A formal recognition procedure is not required if a body of the state to which both spouses belonged exclusively (i.e. no dual nationality) at the time of the decision (so-called home state decision) has participated in the foreign decision.

A formal recognition procedure shall not be carried out for judgments in matrimonial matters from Member States of the European Union other than Denmark if the procedure was initiated after 1 March 2001 or after the subsequent accession of the Member State.

The decision is made only on request. In addition to the spouses concerned, any person who credibly demonstrates a legal interest in clarifying the status issue (e.B. fiancée, later spouses or heirs) is entitled to apply. The pension insurance institutions also have their own right of application. Recognition takes place on request. Only when this has been complied with by decision does the foreign decision also have an effect on the German legal sphere.

The recognition as well as the non-recognition determination of the President of the Higher Regional Court binds all courts and authorities in Germany, § 107 Abs. 9 FamFG. With the recognition of the foreign divorce, the marriage is also considered dissolved for the German legal sphere retroactively to the date of the foreign divorce. The decision according to § 107 FamFG extends exclusively to the pronouncement of divorce (change of status from "married" to "divorced"). Any provisions made in the foreign decision on divorce matters (e.B regulations on maintenance, custody and pension compensation) are not affected.

In addition to the fully completed and signed application form (available on the homepage of the responsible state judicial administration or from the registrar), the following documents must be submitted in the original (in individual cases further documents may be required):

  • Marriage certificate or family book extract or marriage register extract of the divorced marriage as proof of marriage.
  • Complete copy or certified copy of the foreign decision issued by the court of the issuing State, together with the facts and reasons. In the case of an official divorce, a divorce certificate or an extract from the divorce register must be submitted.
  • Proof of the legal force of the foreign decision (either by means of a declaration of res judicata on the judgment, by means of a separate document or by inscription in the civil status register).
  • Proof of registration in countries where this is necessary for the effectiveness of the decision.
  • Translations of all foreign-language documents prepared by a recognised translator in Germany.
  • Certificate of the applicant's earnings/income.
  • Proof of the intended marriage in Bremen by presenting the application for marriage, provided that none of the spouses of the divorced marriage is resident in Bremen.
  • Written power of attorney, if the application is made by an authorized representative.
  • Copy of the applicant's valid passport.

The documents will be returned to you after completion of the procedure.

The originals of the documents must in principle be provided with the legalisation of the competent German mission abroad or with the apostille of the competent foreign home authority.

In the event of legalisation , the German embassy in the country of divorce confirms that:

  • the signatures on the certificate are genuine, and
  • the signatory was entitled to issue public documents.

Several states have concluded the Hague Convention of 05.10.1961 on the Exemption of Foreign Public Documents from Legalization in order to simplify the over-certification by legalization. Legalisation shall be replaced by an apostille between the Contracting States in accordance with Article 3(1) of the Convention. It shall be issued by the competent authority of the State which drew up the document. Under Article 5(2) of the Convention, the apostille testifies to a rebuttable presumption of authenticity of the document.

Special guidelines apply to documents from countries whose documentary services are considered by the Federal Foreign Office to be so serious that legalisation is no longer justifiable. As a rule, these documents are checked for authenticity and correctness of their content by means of administrative assistance by the German mission abroad. The resulting costs shall be borne by the applicant.

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Preconditions

Foreign judgments by which a marriage is annulled, annulled, divorced after or while the marriage bond was maintained or which established the existence or non-existence of a marriage between the parties must be recognised. In particular, foreign divorce decrees are affected, but also comparable decisions of (for example, Russian) administrative authorities or so-called private divorces before religious courts such as the Arab Sharia courts or the rabbinical courts in Israel as well as divorce declarations before a Thai registry office.

A formal recognition procedure is not required if a body of the state to which both spouses belonged exclusively (i.e. no dual nationality) at the time of the decision (so-called home state decision) has participated in the foreign decision.

A formal recognition procedure shall not be carried out for judgments in matrimonial matters from Member States of the European Union other than Denmark if the procedure was initiated after 1 March 2001 or after the subsequent accession of the Member State.

The decision is made only on request. In addition to the spouses concerned, any person who credibly demonstrates a legal interest in clarifying the status issue (e.B. fiancée, later spouses or heirs) is entitled to apply. The pension insurance institutions also have their own right of application. Recognition takes place on request. Only when this has been complied with by decision does the foreign decision also have an effect on the German legal sphere.

  • Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe

Hints

A decision on the application shall be taken by written procedure. Even if applications/documents are submitted during opening hours, there is no immediate examination. In principle, the procedures are processed in the order in which they are received. Telephone inquiries should be avoided in order to ensure a swift and continuous processing of all incoming applications.

  • Marriage matters related to international countries - Higher Regional Court of Braunschweig
  • Administrative proceedings in marriage matters - Higher Regional Court of Oldenburg

Related Links

  • § 107 Act on Proceedings in Family Matters and in Matters of Voluntary Jurisdiction (FamFG)
  • Convention on the Exemption of Foreign Public Documents from Legalisation (Apostille Convention)
  • § 4 Act on Costs in Matters of Administration of Justice (Law on The Administration of Justice Costs Act JVKostG)
  • Act on Costs in Matters of Administration of Justice (Law on the Costs of Justice JVKostG), List of Costs Annex (to § 4 Para. 1) List of Costs, No. 1331

After examination of the general requirements and the submitted documents, the former spouse of the applicant.dem is granted the right to be heard.

  • A consultation period is set for this purpose.
  • In order to be able to carry out the required hearing, the current and serviceable address of the former spouse is therefore always required. Serviceable means that the address must be given in full (current surname, street name, house and, if applicable, apartment number, postal code, etc.).
  • If the party to be heard is domiciled abroad, the address must be given at least in the international postal language (French) and, where appropriate, in the written and language of the receiving country.
  • Violation of the right to be heard may lead to the annulment of the decision.
  • The applicant must make all reasonable efforts to determine the address. If, however, the address cannot be determined, the impossibility of providing it must be proven.

Responsible for the content
Lower Saxony Ministry of Justice

Last update or date of publication
25.11.2020