What’s the difference between divorcing in England and in Germany?
Like most European countries, in Germany the court lacks the discretion the English court has in making awards. The court is subject to strict rules in what it can order on the division of marital assets, and will only:
- Equalise pension entitlements;
- Divide the gains accrued during the marriage equally between the parties.
The court has no power to make transfers of real property (i.e. houses) and is only able to award maintenance for a limited time, and in circumstances where the weaker spouse will experience real hardship on the breakdown of the marriage, and where they have damaged their career by caring for children. The parent who cares for a child is expected, by law, to return to work when the child is three.
The English court therefore has much more wide-ranging powers to order ongoing maintenance, the division of non-matrimonial assets and the transfer of real property. It is highly likely that England will be much more generous to the financially weaker party.