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Minimizing Streitwert in divorce settlement

32 posts in this topic

Posted

Has anyone gone through a (more or less) amicable divorce proceeding and tried to minimize the attorney fee that was calculated based on "Streitwert"? I know what Streitwert is comprised of, my question is: If both partners' names are on the title of the house and neither want any more than his/her share, is this still considered part of Streitwert by the attorney when he figures out his fee? To my understanding, Streitwert consists of only amounts that need to be figured out by the attorney in order to make a fair settlement.

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Posted

 

If both partners' names are on the title of the house and neither want any more than his/her share, is this still considered part of Streitwert by the attorney when he figures out his fee?

Yes, but usually just 5% of the value minus the liabilities.

 

Example: Value of house: 400,000

mortgage: 80,000

= 320,000 * 5% = 16,000 Streitwert (the same procedure is valid for other assets + liabilities)

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Posted

Hi Oblomov, thanks for answering. You're the only one that's answered so I just want to double check. Where do you know this 5% info from? I can't seem to find it anywhere under theme Scheidung-Streitwert in the Internet. Would appreciate further help in pinpointing the fact. Thanx.

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Posted

Scroll down here to "Vermögen", and have a look at the Beispiel.

Those lawyers also have a divorce cost calculator at the very bottom of the page, where these 5% are also mentioned.

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Posted

If the Gegenstandswert (value of assets) cannot be established by the lawyer to determine what he should charge, what is the alternative? Hourly fee seems to be the logical answer to me, but my lawyer says he did not keep track of the hours, although our meetings were pre-set appointments. Is it unreasonable for me to expect him to be able to calculate the time he spent on my case, do lawyers or their secretaries not keep track?

 

He has presented to me a bill with an amount he has pulled out of nowhere It is way over what would have been his hourly fee and even over the fee calculated from the Gegenstandswert ( based my guesstimation). Negotiating a lower price has not worked. I've already paid him as "Vorschuss" (pre-payment) an amount that he would have gotten as an hourly fee for the work he did for me, I even offered a few hundred euros more, he still insists on his amount, what do I do next? What can the lawyer do to me if I don't pay what he is demanding?

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Posted

 

What can the lawyer do to me if I don't pay what he is demanding?

 

Sue you, win a Titel and send the bailiff (Gerichtsvollzieher) round to get his money.

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Posted

But he has to win first, right? Do the clients have a fair chance of winning as well?

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Posted

He will win.

The law governing their fees, the Rechtsanwaltvergütungsgesetz (RVG) clearly says that the default way of charging is by Streitwert.

 

You could only mitigate the sum you will have to pay if you can prove that your Streitwert is lower than he assumed.

But you will not get the court to say that he has to charge by the hour, when the default way of charging is set down by law to be by Streitwert.

 

If he had wanted to charge by the hour then he would have had you sign at the very beginning a Honorarvereinbarung (= Vergütungsvereinbarung, see §3a RVG) stating his hourly rate - this is something divorce lawyers do when they see that they have a poor client without assets in front of them and that therefore calculating by Streitwert would mean less fees for them.

You can't win, lawyers always choose the charging option more advantageous to them.

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Posted

Thanks for continuing to reply to me. I think I need to give you a clearer picture of what my problem is all about .

I visited a lawyer to talk about writing a new "Ehevertrag", clearly stated that divorce is not the intention at the moment. she aske me to sign the Wertgebühren-Hinweis and told me about calculating her fee from Streitwert. I signed the form, saw that Honorarvereibarung or hourly fee could be chosen as an alternative. I had already paid 190 for an Erstberatung that happened a couple of month ago. When I met her again, we had a 1hr 15 min meeting with her (the time I signed the Wertgebühren form) after which, I paid her 1000 Vorschuss for work that was to come. My husband met with her also for 1hr 15 minutes, after that we decided not to pursue the new Ehevertrag so I met with her again for about 30 minutes to tell her this. Outside of the meeting there were a couple of email "Bericht" about a summary of what we discussed and a rough calculation of the Trennungsunterhalt that would be in the Ehevertrag. The lawyer was clearly upset when I told off to break it off, said she wants €2500 as her fee for the work she has done for me. This seemed like a lot to me, I asked around, including another lawyer, they confirmed that she is overcharging for work that had no completed aspect to it at all : no Ehevertrag, no divorce, no official anything. Her engagement for me consisted of 3 hours of meetings plus her time for writing the email Berichts (about 2 pgs each). This is what I am fighting about, I offered her the additional 300 (making it a total of 1500 that I would have paid her) to end this thing amicably, she refused. Can you offer more helpful advice?

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Posted

So I guess the lawyer has a right to charge me that amount just for having started the work. But, if she didn't complete it, according to what I read in the Berlin case, she charges a half fee (5/10).

She has "threatened" to change the bill to "Abrechnung nach Gegenstadnwert "but didn't, just sent the same Vergütungsvereinbarung bill for 2,500 again. I have a feeling she didn't do it because it would be less than 2500! Maybe I should just call her on her bluff.

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Posted

You could ask the Stuttgart bar associaton to check her bill, see here.

 

But don't expect them to be impartial, they will only help you if she grossly overcharged you.

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Posted

Hello Munichpanda, what do you know about the Gebührenhöhe that lawyers multiply the Streitwert with? If a case was abandoned as in my case (as in the Berlin example), can a lawyer still use 1.0 (Vollgebühren) or more? According to the official table, even with the highest Streitwert that the lawyer can claim we have, her fee would be below 2.500 if calculated with 1.0. Thanks for your help in this, it's a big relief for me to be able to actually ask questions in English rather than struggle in German.

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Posted

Let's go back to the start.

You mention in post no. 11 a Vergütungsvereinbarung that you signed, i.e. you agreed with the lawyer on special charging rates, valid just for your case.

 

What exactly is the content of that Vergütungsvereinbarung?

Could you please type its German text here (of course leaving out all the personal details), so that I can get an idea what she is allowed to charge according to it?

 

Usually, if you have signed a Vergütungsvereinbarung this is the way a lawyer charges, and not according to the Streitwert/Gegenstandswert.

 

The Berlin case is a bit different from yours in the sense that the lawyer there was also a notary and therefore charged according to the charging law for notaries (= Kostenordnung = KostO) and not to the charging law for lawyers (= Rechtsanwaltsvergütungsgesetz = RVG).

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Posted

The lawyer is trying to make me sign a "Vergütungsvereinbarung" for €2500 which everyone, including a family relative who is a lawyer told me not to sign I signed a "Wertgebühren-Hinweis gem 49" in the beginning and she explained that her fee would be calculated ased on Gegenstandswert according to the law set for lawyer fees. When I wanted to break off, she came up with the "Vergütungsvereinbarung".When I didn't sign it, she "threatened" to calculate her fee based on the Wertgebühren. Here is a copy of a mail that I drafted to send to her, see if it makes sense.

The total worth of our assets including an apartment that we have both owned from the beginning (thus, my first post) is around €750,000. Not only the apartment but the other assets have all been agreed upon by me and my husband as to how to divide them. In another words, the assets are not really "Streitwert", only Unterhalt and Vorsorge would be. Don't know if the assets still count as Streitwert?

 

"denn ich die Vergütungsvereinbarung nicht unterschrieben habe, wissen Sie dass ich den Betrag von €2.500 nicht zustimme. Wieso hat der RVS mir eine Rechnung von diese Summe geshcikt?

 

Sie haben mir geschrieben dass die "Abrechnung nach Gegenstandwert" berechnet wird. Ich frage mich wie Sie der richtige Gegenstandwert überhaupt wissen denn ich weiss auch nicht. Die Zahlen ich vermittelt habe waren Schätzung von mir, mittlerweile habe ich festgestellt dass sie nicht stimmen, dass ich manche Sachen überschätzt, auch falsch geschätz habe.

 

Laut die Tabelle unten, müssen wir ein Streitwert von €350,000 haben um was Sie verlangen (€2.500) zu stimmen und zwar unter Vollgebührenhöhe von 1.0 Auch wenn ich nicht genau weiss, ich bin sicher dass unsere Streitwert weit unter 350,000 liegt. Denn der Angelegenheit frühzeitg abgebrochen wurde, können Sie wahrscheinlich auch nicht der Vollgebühren verlangen.

 

http://www.rechtsanwaltmoebius.de/gesetz/rvg-tabelle.pdf

 

Ich biete nochmal und zum letztenmal die weitere €300 (Gesamt summe €1500) an um diese Sache zu beenden. Wenn Sie dass nicht zustimmen, warte ich gespannt auf die Abrechnung nach Gegenstandwert."

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Posted

You have to differentiate.

 

If we were talking about a court case, e.g. a divorce, then the fees would be calculated according to the Streitwert (value for a court case).

 

However, you were asking her to draft an Ehevertrag (post-nuptial contract).

There fees are calculated according to the Gegenstandswert (value in an out of court case).

 

Those two terms are synonyms of each other, but depending of whether you are in court or not you call it by a different name.

 

As we saw from the Berlin example, where at the very end an actual lawyer answered, see Berlin lawyers/notaries charging €800/hour, the Gegenstandswert was the total amount of their assets.

 

This would mean that in post-nups the fee goes by the whole amount of assets, in your case that would be at least 750,000€ because of the apartment that you mentioned in the Ehevertrag, and then you would have to add 12 times the Trennungsunterhalt if you also had the amount for that written down in the Ehevertrag, and so on.

So, for assets in the range of 800,000€ that bill is starting to sound about right.

 

And yes, she seems to be allowed to estimate the Gegenstandswert as long as you don't furnish her with proof of how high it really is, see §23 Absatz 3 RVG:

 

  • Soweit sich der Gegenstandswert aus diesen Vorschriften nicht ergibt und auch sonst nicht feststeht, ist er nach billigem Ermessen zu bestimmen.

 

 

The Focus magazine had an article on this and in it they say that a post-nup for total assets of 250,000€ would cost 1,000€ + VAT + small fees for writing it up, i.e. around 1,300€.

 

I suggest that you do not send your above e-mail and instead ask your family member who is a German lawyer how much he/she thinks that lawyer is allowed to charge (but make sure first that he/she doesn't charge you for that advice, it would again be calculated according to your assets!).

Or you go to the Rechtsanwaltskammer Stuttgart (see post 12) and ask them.

 

But from what you say, I am starting to think that legally she is on steady ground.

However, I am not a lawyer.

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Posted

Regarding the Berlin case, yes, he started the calculation with €835,000 but notice the second figure he used from the table is about 5% of 835,000 around €40,000...go right along the line and there is the €800 fee he charged that person. My lawyer knew it would be a Ehevertrag, not divorce, why did she present me with that table if the Streitwert doesn't apply at all? Anyways, thanks so much for all your input. Do you do this just for fun? You are the best on the forum!

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Posted

Streitwert = Gegenstandswert.

You just call it by a different name depending on whether you are in a court case or in an out-of-court case.

 

Even lawyers use Streitwert most of the time, since that is the term the general public knows, while the term used in the RVG is Gegenstandswert.

It's a distinction without a difference.

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Posted

 

 

This would mean that in post-nups the fee goes by the whole amount of assets, in your case that would be at least 750,000€ because of the apartment that you mentioned in the Ehevertrag,

 

Just in case there should still be an outstanding mortgage bond on that apartment the value of it should be deducted, I think.

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Posted

 

Just in case there should still be an outstanding mortgage bond on that apartment the value of it should be deducted, I think.

 

Correct.

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