Questionnaires for German-British Divorce and Child Custody Matters

If a marriage goes sour and one spouse finally decides to ask a lawyer for advice, the client is usually rather emotional and nervous, especially when children are involved and the parents cannot agree amicably on where and with whom the children shall live for the time being. Thus, the client wants a reliable assessment of the legal situation. And he or she wants these answers fast. Things are usually even more stressful and complicated in an international setting, i.e. if the spouses have different nationalities and possibly even places or residence in different countries.

In order to speed up this process and to enable our law firm to consider all relevant facts of such international family law cases, our German family law expert Silvia Binder has developed new client questionnaires for such separation, divorce and child custody matters in English.

The forms are available for download on our law firm website.

Should you need advice or legal representation in a British-German or American-German divorce or child custody matter, our German and English lawyers will be glad to help.

For more on German and international family law, in particular on marriage, divorce and child custody rules please also see the posts below or simply click on the “Family Law” button in the right side column of this blog:

Or simply click on the “Family Law” section in the right column of this blog.

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The law firm Graf & Partners and its German-English forensic services and litigation department GP Chambers was established in 2003 and has many years of experience with British-German and US-German family law and probate matters, including the representation of clients in German litigation and arbitration proceedings. If you wish us to advise or represent you in a German or cross border legal matter please send an email or call us on +49 941 463 7070.

Broken Engagement in Germany: Engagement Ring must be returned

May the Bride keep the Engagement Ring under German Family Law Rules?

German law is very simple in regards to what happens to engagement gifts (especially engagement rings) if the the wedding is called off: They must be returned. Section 1301 German Civil Code (BGB) states:

Section 1301: Return of the presents

If the marriage does not take place, each engaged person may require the other to return what the former gave as a present or as a sign of the engagement, under the provisions on the return of unjust enrichment. In case of doubt it should be assumed that the claim for return is to be excluded if the engagement ends as a result of the death of one of the engaged persons.

In this context, it does not matter who has broken the engagement and whether one party is at fault. The wedding ring and other present which have been made because of the engagement must be returned. Period. Things are a bit more complicated in Common Law jurisdictions, where the bride is often allowed to keep the engagement ring (see here, here and here). Still, most western states nowadays follow the no-fault, conditional gift approach and award the engagement ring to the giver in case of a broken engagement. Continue reading

English Desk at German Law Firm Graf Partners LLP

Solicitor_SchmeilzlThe Munich and Regensburg based German law firm Graf & Partners LLP, established in 2003, specialises in providing professional legal services to English speaking clients, both business and private. Our British-German specialist teams of lawyers and linguists advise on all legal and tax issues connected to Germany and European Union law, from business, corporate and labour to international probate, family law and property.

Solicitor_EJ_MunichThe English Desk in our Munich office is headed by dual qualified English solicitor and registered European lawyer Elissa Jelowicki. The English Desk at the Regensburg office is headed by the firm’s managing partner Bernhard Schmeilzl, LL.M.

Our English partner firm Lyndales Solicitors LLP, located in central London, operates a German Desk with expertise in German-British legal matters from an English law perspective. Together, the British-German lawyers do assist UK, US and other international clients in both the United Kingdom and in Germany.

And should you need to go to court in Germany, the litigation department GP Chambers provides forensic services in German civil and business lawsuits or arbitration proceedings throughout the country. Our senior lawyers are also frequently called upon to act as arbitrators due to their expertise in both English and German law as well as their language skills.

If you need assistance with German law or tax issues, why not contact German lawyer Bernhard Schmeilzl, LL.M. (Leicester) or Munich based English solicitor Elissa Jelowicki on +49 941 463 7070.

More information on litigation and legal fees in Germany is available in these posts:

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The law firm Graf & Partners was established in 2003 and has many years of experience with British-German and US-German legal matters.The Anglo-German litigation lawyer team of GP Chambers is well equipped to advise and represent clients from the UK and other English speaking countries. If you wish us to advise or represent you in a German or cross border case, or if you need an expert report on German law, please call +49 941 463 7070 in order to contact German lawyer Bernhard Schmeilzl, LL.M. (Leicester), managing partner and head of the litigation department. Bernhard is also frequently asked by British and US Courts and Tribunals or by legal counsels to provide expert reports and legal opinions on German law.

Living Will and Enduring Power of Attorney under German Law

In Germany, it is rather common to set up a Power of Attorney (Vorsorgevollmacht) and/or a Living Will (Patientenverfügung). The formal requirements for both are quite simple. Whereas a Last Will (Testament) must either be written in the testators own hand or must be recorded in the presence of a German notary (details here), both an Enduring Power of Attorney as well as a Living Will must only be in writing. Thus, most Germans use standard templates which are readily available in book shops and on the internet. To avoid unpleasant surprises (the internet is full of badly drafted templates and brochures issued by religious sects), one should probably choose one of the established standard forms recommended by the federal or state governments in collaboration with various medical organisations.Two of the most popular publications containing legal and medical explanations as well as templates are: Continue reading

Challenging Paternity in Germany and the UK: Very Different Procedures

by German Lawyer Silvia Binder and English Solicitor Elissa Jelowicki

Imagine you get to know a woman at the birthday party of your best friend; it is love at first sight. A whirlwind romance begins and you decide to get married. Then your wife gives you the happy news that a child is under way.  After your child is born, your sweet little baby looks like the spitting image of your best friend and it slowly dawns on you that you were cheated on by your wife – the woman of your dreams.

If this was not bad enough to realize, you are then confronted with child maintenance claims. Your financial situation will be tied for the next 20 years in maintenance payments. At this point, you must be asking yourself how you can escape such a nightmare.

In England, challenging paternity is more straightforward than in Germany. Until officially declared otherwise, it is assumed that the father of the child is the biological father if he is on the child’s birth certificate and/or married to the child’s mother at birth. Continue reading

How to Divorce a German (and where)

Reliable Expert Information on British-German Family Law from International Divorce Lawyers

When a British-German marriage starts to go south, the smart thing for each spouse to do is to get professional advice early on regarding what the differences would be if the divorce proceedings were carried out in England as compared to the divorce taking place in Germany. Which country’s courts have jurisdiction over an international divorce is rather complicated and sometimes it comes down to who files first for divorce in their “home” country. Ideally, of course, the spouses would agree on this issue and settle amicably. However, even if they do, each spouse should be aware of his/her rights under English or German law. For an overview of German divorce and child custody rules see the English language version of the relevant family law statutes of the German Civil Code (Book 4 of German BGB, i.e. section 1297 et seq.).

The links and downloads listed below provide more detailed information on certain aspects of German family law. Even if some of the reports are a little old, the basic principles are being very well explained in these documents which is the reason why we still list them:

Some of the above is a tough read, even for lawyers. However, in our experience it increases the chances of achieving a collaborative, maybe even amicable divorce (although the Huffington Post says there is no such thing) when each spouse knows about his or her rights (in both jurisdictions) and does not have to fear being taken advantage of.

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The British-German legal team of Lyndales Solicitors (London) and Graf & Partners LLP (Munich) specialise in international legal matters including English-German divorces and other family law cases. The law office Graf & Partners was established in 2003 and focuses on British-German business and private law. If you need advice please contact German solicitor Bernhard Schmeilzl, LL.M. (Leicester) at +49 941 463 7070. If you need to see an English lawyer in Germany, you can arrange for a personal appointment with English solicitor Elissa Jelowicki in Munich or we can arrange for a video or telephone conference if you are located elsewhere.

Alimony in Germany: Child Maintenance and Financial Support for Single Mothers

You are or have been in a relationship with a German woman. She is pregnant and wants you to pay alimony for the newborn-to-be. But you are not sure whether you are the father. What to do?

This post deals with unmarried couples only. For children born in marriage, German law presumes that the husband is the father. If the husband has doubts about this then he must contest paternity pursuant to see Sec. 1600 German Civil Code, and this needs to happen within two years of learning of the circumstances that give him reason to doubt his paternity, see Sec.1600b German Civil Code. 

For children born outside marriage it must be determined who the father is, so called “Vaterschaftsfeststellung” (i.e. determination of paternity), see Sec. 1600d German Civil Code. The basics are explained on German Wikipedia here (however, only in German).

If the mother wants the (potential) father to pay child support and he refuses, then the mother can apply to the court and the court can – eventually – force the male to take a paternity test. However, psychologically, it may be a better alternative to take that test voluntarily, especially if the potential father is interested in joint custody and visitation rights, should it turn out that the child is actually his. 

Once it is determined who the father is, then the child is entitled to child support until the child finishes his/her education (see Sec. 1601-1615n German Civil Code). There exist court guidelines, the so called Düsseldorfer Tabelle, to determine the actual amount of child maintenance payments due. In addition, the mother can claim financial support from the male for herself for the period during which she is unable to work because she is taking care of the baby / child (see Sec. 1570 German Civil Code). The details depend on the financial situation of the parents and are unfortunately quite complicated, especially if there are other children and maybe even an ex-partner and a current wife.

For more on German and international family law, in particular on marriage, divorce and child custody rules please also see the posts below or simply click on the “Family Law” button in the right side column of this blog:

Or simply click on the “Family Law” section in the right column of this blog. You may also be interested in the sections debt collection and going to court.

The law firm Graf & Partners and its German-English forensic services and litigation department GP Chambers was established in 2003 and has many years of experience with British-German and US-German family law and probate matters, including the representation of clients in German litigation and arbitration proceedings. If you wish us to advise or represent you in a German or cross border legal matter please send an email or call us on +49 941 463 7070.