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Recognition of Foreign Divorce Orders

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Your marriage was divorced abroad? It is necessary to have the foreign divorce order formally recognized under German law.

Why is the recognition of my divorce order necessary?

Regardless of where you got married and whether you may have remarried after your divorce, any divorce procedure that was conducted outside of the EU must first be formally recognized for the German legal sphere.

As long as your foreign divorce order has not been formally recognized in Germany, you are still deemed to be married.
Stempel auf Scheidungspapiere
Stempel auf Scheidungspapiere © picturedesk.com

A marriage that was only dissolved abroad continues to be valid in Germany; the spouses continue to be deemed married to each other until the divorce order is formally recognized. The German spouse is not allowed to remarry according to German law, as bigamy is prohibited. The formal recognition of divorce, however, is not only necessary when you are planning to get remarried, but must be applied for in any case in order to avoid legal problems regarding your name, your marital status and issues regarding the legal parentage of children born after the divorce. It must be avoided that children born after the divorce be legally attributed to an ex-husband.

Possible Exception:

A formal recognition of divorce is not necessary, if
1. both spouses hold the same country's citizenship, only (i.e. are no dual citizens), and
2. the divorce took place in their home country.
Example: If a woman holding only South African citizenship got divorced by a South African court from a man who only holds South African citizenship, then the divorce need not be formally recognized in Germany.

How Do I Apply for Recognition of Divorce?

The recognition of divorce must be applied for at the competent “Landesjustizbehörde”, depending on the place of residence of the spouses. You must therefore send the application to the “Landesjustizbehörde” of your German place of residence. If neither spouse ever lived in Germany, the “Senatsverwaltung für Justiz” in Berlin is the competent authority for your application. Information can be found here

The fees are calculated according to your income.

Required Documents

Documents that are not in the German language must be furnished with a translation of a sworn translator. The Senatsverwaltung für Justiz in Berlin, however, usually does not insist on translations for Englisch language documents.

  • fully completed application form

  • Marriage certificate, respectively unabridged marriage certificate of the dissolved marriage in copy

  • Final order of divorce with Apostille in the original or as a certified copy; if applicable together with the summons

  • proof of citizenship of both spouses (e.g. copies of passports)

  • proof of income and assets

Note that additional documents may be requested by the competent authority in Germany.

We recommend naming a person currently residing in Germany with power of attorney to receive official correspondence in your name in order to avoid that letters from the “Landesjustizbehörde” be subject to the unreliability of cross-border postal service.

If you require certifications of your signature or of copies, they can be prepared by the German Missions, see here

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