Divorce proceedings do not necessarily have to be initiated in the state where the marriage was contracted. If one of the spouses is a German citizen, divorce proceedings can be initiated in Germany, but spouses can also divorce abroad. Applicants should check with the respective court and a family lawyer where to apply best for the divorce. If the divorce is decreed by a foreign court, the divorce is not automatically valid in Germany. German citizens must have their divorce acknowledged by a German court.
Competent authority for recognition of divorce
The competent authority for recognition of divorce is the administration of justice (Justizverwaltung)/ Higher Regional Court (Obelandesgericht) of the "Bundesland" in which one of the spouses has or had a domicile. If none of the spouses has had a domicile in Germany, the "Senatsverwaltung für Justiz" in Berlin is the competent authority.
How to lodge the application?
The application can be lodged
- through a German registry office
- through a German consulate
- directly at the competent Justozverwaltung or Oberlandesgericht
Please use the application form on the right (available in German only).
You will need certified copies of the following documents
- marriage certificate
- divorce decree (see below)
- current (German) passport
- proof of income (for calculations of fees, see below)
A translation of English documents or an Apostille are usually not needed.
Informationen about Australian divorce decrees
Australia has had different divorce decrees in the past. Not all of them are recognized in Germany!
All divorce decrees issued until 01.07.2002. A 'decree nisi' is a provisional divorce decree that became valid after some time ('decree absolute'). A 'decree absolute' is recognized in Germany.
'Certificates of divorce' were issued between July 2002 and 12.02.2010. 'Certificates of divorce' are not recognized in Germany!
If you only have a 'certificate of divorce', you have to get a 'divorce order' from the Family Law Court (see below).
'Divorce orders' have been issued since 13.02.2010. Please note that the electronic version is not sufficient for a recognition of divorce. If you only have an electronic version, you have to get it authenticated by the issueing court.
How to get a "Divorce Order"?
You can get the 'divorce order' from the Family Law Court - also a posteriori. This also includes divorces before the 01.07.2002!
Family Law Court - request proof of divorce
In case you have been sent a 'certificate of divorce' instead of the 'divorce order', please send it back and request the 'divorce order'.
The fee for recognition of divorce is calculated on basis of your monthly income. Therefore, it is important to add some proof of income (pay slip, tax statement) as otherwise the maximum fee can be charged. Fees can be from 10 to 300 EUR. Usually the fee ranges at around 155 EUR.
How long does it take?
Please note that we cannot predict how long this process will take. The processing times may vary considerably depending on the complexity of the case and the individual authority and might take several months.