Divorcing in Germany with a young child

52 posts in this topic

@OP  you can read some summaries about divorce and child child support in Germany compared to US and other countries here:

http://www.realworlddivorce.com/International

 

some excerpts:

 

Germany

Carola Offenhausen, a 2001 honors graduate of Heidelberg University (founded 1386!) who has been handling family law cases since 2003 answered our questions about the system in Germany. Her office is in Baden-Baden (www.kanzlei-braitsch.de). Unlike in the U.S. there is no state-to-state variation in family law or child support amounts.

Unlike in some Scandinavian countries, Germans must go to court in order to obtain a divorce and "at least one party needs a lawyer because only a lawyer is allowed to file for divorce with the court," said Offenhausen. However, a divorcing German couple need not embark on a custody or child support war; informal agreements regarding children and their associated expenses are common. A typical German divorce takes a minimum of about 16 months: "You cannot file for divorce unless you've been separated for at least one year and the other person agrees." said Offenhausen. "Then the legal process typically takes a minimum of four months." Are people who don't like each other anymore but still live in the same house "separated"? "Yes," said Offenhausen, "but, for example, they can't eat meals together and one spouse is not allowed to wash clothing for the other. The expression is 'separated from table and bed'." What if one person wants a divorce and cannot persuade the other spouse to agree? "Then there must be three years of separation if the reasons for the break up of the marriage cannot be proved." If one person wants to drag things out how long can a divorce last? "It could be up to five or six years," responded Offenhausen.

...

Is there a way to shortcut the one-year separation period? "Yes, in cases of particular hardship," said Offenhausen. "For example, a spouse can file for divorce immediately with an allegation of domestic violence. He or she needs to go to a doctor for evidence, then to the police, and it is quite easy to get a restraining order in one week." As in the U.S., there is an opportunity to defend against the order in a future hearing. How successful are litigants who make false allegations? "Good liars can do very well in this system," Offenhausen responded. "And though domestic violence is not a factor in the divorce it is very helpful for getting custody."

Germany has a U.S.-style temporary orders process whereby one spouse can get the house, the children, and a cash flow: "If it can be proved that the case is urgent,  e.g. children are homeless, mother and children have no income at all, this is possible within 1-3 weeks."

...

As in Switzerland and Denmark (below), in the case of disputed custody the mother in Germany is nearly always the winner. However, unlike in Switzerland and Denmark this is not due to a statutory preference for mothers. German courts award custody to mothers using the same rationale as courts in most U.S. states: "There is a principle of continuity, which means that normally the parent that shared the most time with the child is in advantage. Typically this person is the mother so most children from divorced families live with their mothers." How often do these children see the father? "The other parent can have contact every second weekend," responded Offenhausen. What does "most children" mean? In 12 years of handling family law cases Offenhausen had never seen a father awarded either 50/50 or primary custody from a court. "Parents can agree on a 50/50 schedule or for the father to have custody," Offenhausen added. What would induce a mother to give up the opportunity to collect millions of dollars in child support? "It isn't possible to collect more than the top of the table absent special needs or private school," said Offenhausen. The "table" means the "Düsseldorfer Tabelle" and provides for, at a maximum, 508 euro per month for children age 0-5, 503 euro per month from age 6-11, and 682 euro per month for ages 12-17. As of May 2015 this works out to about $6,643, $6,578, or $8,184 per year, not too different than neighboring Denmark's numbers (below). As in the U.S., child support revenue is the same regardless of whether the parents were married. As in some U.S. states, the child support formula does not depend on the custodial parent's income: "it is generally irrelevant if the mother earns 25,000 or 1,000 euro per month." Courts can make an exception if the custodial parent earns many times the income of the non-custodial parent. Another exception to using the numbers from the table is shared parenting: "50/50 physical custody (Wechselmodell) is very rare in Germany. Only if there is a real Wechselmodell (it has to be 50/50; 45/55 is not enough to change the method of calculation from the Düsseldorfer Tabelle) the child support is calculated differently. It is a complicated calculation method based on both incomes and considering the costs for day care.

...

 

Child support is potentially payable through the completion of a first university degree, i.e., age 26 or 28. However, "if the child is over 18, the money has to be paid directly to the child," said Offenhausen. Child support revenue is less secure than in many U.S. states because German courts will not order the paying parent also to purchase life insurance.

There is the potential for a custody and child support flow to be reversed when a child wants to live with the other parent or if it can be shown that continuing to live with the custodial parent is "against the child's well-being." "Before the child turns 14, the judge can hear the child, but is not obliged to do so. Normally the judge will consider the child's opinion before his or her decision. But in the end the court has to decide in behalf of the child's well-being (Kindeswohl) and this is often not identical with the child's preference."

If children are not profitable in Germany, what about the profitability of a short marriage? "Before 2009 it was possible for a wife to get alimony for her entire life," said Offenhausen. "Today, however, the wife who wants alimony has to prove that she had a disadvantage due to the marriage. Suppose that the wife was a nurse before marriage and after the break up she has the possibility to work in this job again. She has not been disadvantaged. Suppose that the wife was a computer specialist before marriage and had to abandon to work at this job to stay home with the baby for 10 years. After marriage she cannot return at her job because work in the computer field has totally changed. Then she has a disadvantage and will get compensation."" For how many years? "The length of alimony is supposed to depend on the length of the marriage but it is up to the discretion of the judge," responded Offenhausen. "In a marriage of more than 20 years it might be possible to get alimony for life. In a 'short marriage' of only 6 or 7 years then possibly for just one year."

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am affraid that Sonazeit is on my "Jeremy list"...  its like an "ignore list" but you read the shite and just ignore most of it...

 

I get the feeling that he/she is very bitter about the JA and has had a bad experience based on their earlier beleif that "Mama get her way"... a bit Like Anegus is prone to too... 

 

 

Divorce is usually a very bitter situation as "Hate" has grown or developed often due to the other partners Pride being hurt. 

 

It this case at hand, I would suggest that the "Notfromhere"  talks to the wife and puts the flat/House up for sale. 

 

This will force people to put their cards on the table and hopefully an acceptable solution could be found. 

 

I am all for fathers having more input in their childrens  life... but ft its at the expense of introducing conflict and unrest to the childs life, then forget it... 

 

I am still in the learning phase, nearly 9 yrs on...   My daughter now looks forward to coming to me so she can chill and get away from the responsibillities her mom shoves on her... ..

 

Her Mother knows what buttons to push.... but she has also learned that if she pushes me too far, then the "Lilly needs this that and the other" cash flow stops...  

 

 

So, Notfromhere, if you really need an absolute solid answer as to what will happen...  Sorry, No one can tell you.   But it wont be easy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You still have a chance, even with a difficult ex.  Kids aren't stupid.  I know an Indian guy who has a daughter now 16.  He told me that when she was small, her mom would tell her that your dad will take you to India and sell you.  She wasn't very old when she started to protest that my daddy loves me and would do no such thing.  Now she's 16 and completing realschule, she's actually about to move in with her dad.

 

I think the best strategy is to try to stay on good terms as much as possible even if it sometimes means giving in to stupid demands, changing visitation at a moments notice etc.  Absolutely never speak a bad word about her to your child, no matter what your ex says about you.  Later your child will look back and be able to identify which of their parents was making things difficult.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, 2B_orNot2B said:

 

[...]

 

2B

Thanks. Sometimes I don't know why I bother with certain posts...

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen my brother divorce (well, having an unwanted divorce foisted on him) with 3 kids and while it has definitely not been pretty (it never is), it's a long way from some of the stories floating around here. Everyone  is now settled, the grown ups are polite to each other and the kids get on well with both parents, something that wasn't a given when this started.

 

A certain willingness to abandon procedures that don't work helps. E.g. they started with a mediator, but in the end resorted to lawyers which worked a lot better.  On the other hand I have friends going through a nasty divorce and there having a single point of contact (the mediator) in addition to the lawyers works as this person e.g. coordinates the kids holidays etc. Of course this requires both parents to agree beforehand to accept the decision of the mediator. It does help if you can throw a certain amount of money at the problem :-S

 

All in all: Don't panic.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got a 45/55 arrangement. It was very hard and painfully won. Never once did my daughter (now adult) wish for the simple continuity of a life with twice-monthly visits to her father - that's not how a child with a normal connection to her parents thinks. Had a 50/50 arrangement been considered the norm, none of the conflict would have arisen, and everyone involved would have been the happier for it.

 

The system as it stands induces severe conflict in every case where you have two good parents: that is a very poor strategy. People will say that's not every case: I won't dispute it. But anyone who thinks a kid is better off automatically separated from one parent doesn't really care about the kid at all.

 

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, deadsoul said:

 

 

The system as it stands induces severe conflict in every case where you have two good parents: that is a very poor strategy. People will say that's not every case: I won't dispute it. But anyone who thinks a kid is better off automatically separated from one parent doesn't really care about the kid at all.

 

Very well put...  

 

As a mater of interest, as it was almost a 50/50  time split, how was maintenance decided?   

 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. I wish I hadn't had to think about it so much.

 

45/55 doesn't influence the maintenance - it's the same as if you had a 0/100 arrangement.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the comments, some helpful advice. All in all, "don't panic"...only this is new territory for me and I'm nervous, because of the soon-to-be large life changes coming ahead. I've been postponing leaving for well over a year, we've had some on-off moments, but by far the biggest reason for me staying around is that my daughter is not even 3, and it's such a sensitive age. But now it's getting to a point where my wife's and mine arguments are weekly, and very intense...there's no love left it seems, and I really don't want to my little girl seeing this side of me when we argue. Taking the step to walk out is tough, because of my daughter. 

 

In addition, my wife and I signed contracts for a new flat, which means selling our current flat in the next few months. We could have done without this, we only have ourselves to blame for this...

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Spidey. Leave the room, take a walk, whatever. Children watching their parents argue changes who they are.

 

No kids in my house but, if it gets heavy, I simply raise my hand and say, "I'm not willing to discuss this right now." and leave the room. It works pretty well. We can then talk about it when we are both calm and it is a new day.

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@notfromhere I can sympathize with you. I am an American woman going through the same thing (no fighting, mild arguments, but a dead/no-love/roommate type relationship) with a German husband and an almost 3 year old. This has been coming for almost 2 years from my side, but haven't made a move bc of logistics and fear. I make good money, work for myself (UG) and would not need alimony, but I fear navigating this system. My husband has the "I wont stop you from leaving but I won't help  you either" mentality which is frustrating, but I believe we will keep it civil. He wants me to move out, which is fine, although I will be the main care provider purely bc of his schedule (he works in a hospital and his shifts are all over the place). It's not an easy realization, decision or process no matter what country you are in. Doing it in a system/country I personally still cannot navigate well in (as I could in the US) is daunting, but I have had a couple of other non-German women go through this unscathed - husbands too - and this was bc they agreed on everything (house, assets, custody time, etc) between the two of them and had lawyers draw up the paperwork for them. This is another reason I have held on. I want my husband to accept he is also not happy and become an active participant in the split. Sounds weird, but I want us to be able to sit and make these decisions as our daughter's parents and not as pissed off adults. My girlfriends I mentioned above were able to reach this point with their spouses. I minimize talk about anything other than our daughter, I limit my "alone" time with him (if she's in Kita and he is home during the day, I close my bedroom/office door and work until he is gone or go run errands). We have been in separate rooms for well over a year now. Even our daughter knows Mama's room versus Papa's room but I do NOT want her growing up thinking all of this is normal.  A house with no love is not better than a house full of arguments. Lack of emotion is just as detrimental...I know, I grew up in a house like that and sadly recreated that environment. But I have the strength to do this - and so do you - when the time is right for my situation. Please keep me/us posted on how things are going....

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now