Divorce proceedings: everything about the process and duration

If a marriage has failed, the divorce proceedings are the last joint act of the spouses. But how exactly does the divorce process proceed and how long does it take? In this article we have collected the most important information about divorce proceedings.

How are divorce proceedings initiated?

If a couple would like to divorce, the partners must first wait for the year of separation . This period of separation serves as evidence for the family court that the marriage really has broken down. If this condition is met, the divorce proceedings can be initiated.

In order to file for divorce , one of the spouses must file a petition for divorce with the competent family court through their attorney. In principle, it is irrelevant which of the two partners takes over this task. Only with regard to the costs of the divorce can it be advantageous if the spouses come to an agreement with each other. You can read more about this in our article “Filing for Divorce: The Top 3 Tips” .

After the divorce application has been received by the court, it will check whether all the necessary information and documents are enclosed. The court then sends the divorce application to the second spouse, asking them to comment. If he agrees, the divorce proceedings can continue.

What is regulated in the divorce proceedings?

In addition to the actual divorce, the equalization of pensions is also automatically regulated in the divorce proceedings, provided this has not been excluded by a notarized regulation, for example a marriage contract . Separate applications must be submitted to the court for all other ancillary matters, such as regulations on maintenance , custody or equalization of gains.

These applications do not have to be submitted at the same time as the divorce application, but can be submitted up to two weeks before the divorce date. This should enable the spouses to find an amicable solution even during the ongoing divorce proceedings. If this is not the case, the ancillary matters applied for will be negotiated at the divorce date together with the divorce itself in the so-called divorce association.

How is the divorce date going?

The point in time when things get really serious in the divorce proceedings for the (still) spouse is the divorce date. Both spouses must appear in person and bring both their identity card and the summons to the divorce date. Spectators, for example new life partners, are not allowed in the courtroom and have to wait outside the door.

In special exceptional cases, the court can also allow that both partners do not have to be present at the same time. This is the case, for example, if one of the spouses lives far away. In such a case, it is possible, provided that all parties involved agree, that this partner will be heard in the court of his place of residence. Even if a meeting of the two spouses is to be avoided due to acts of violence, special regulations are possible.

In the case of an amicable divorce in which no follow-up matters are clarified, the divorce appointment usually only lasts about 10 to 15 minutes. The judge asks the spouses one after the other about how long they have been separated, how the separation came about and whether the marriage really failed. The reason for the intended divorce, on the other hand, is not relevant to the divorce proceedings and is therefore not asked. Once both partners have spoken and no discrepancies have arisen, the judge then announces the divorce decree. The marriage is thus divorced.

legal force of the divorce

The divorce only becomes legally effective immediately if both partners declare the so-called waiver of appeal. By doing so, they waive their right to appeal the divorce decree within four weeks. However, this declaration is only possible if both partners are represented by their own lawyer in the divorce proceedings. If this is not the case, the four-week period must be awaited until the divorce becomes final.

How long does the divorce process take?

In principle, each divorce procedure can take a different amount of time. As a rule, however, the spouses must reckon with at least four months if the divorce is amicable but the pension rights adjustment is carried out.

Since the appropriate forms for recording the respective pension entitlements are sent back and forth several times between the divorce lawyer , client, family court and pension provider and this has to be done for both spouses, this process can take several months. If, in addition to the equalization of pensions, further ancillary matters are heard in court, the divorce proceedings are extended accordingly.

If you are aiming for a quick divorce, it is best to come to an agreement with your partner in the year of separation and to record the detailed regulations in a divorce agreement.
Note: If the pension equalization is waived and there are no other follow-up matters to be settled, the marriage may be dissolved immediately after the year of separation.

Do the divorce proceedings end with the divorce decree?

Since both spouses have the opportunity to appeal against the divorce decree within four weeks, the divorce proceedings actually only end after this period has expired. But even if both partners declare their waiver of appeal, it can still be a while before the final end of the divorce proceedings. Because the divorce decision, which the now divorced spouses need, for example, to initiate changes in marital status or to remarry, is usually only sent to the divorce lawyer a few days or weeks after the divorce declaration.

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