Who gets what in a divorce?

Almost 40 percent of all marriages in Germany end in divorce. Thereby often not only the nerves lie bare, but it is also about the finances. Finally, in the course of the divorce a jointly acquired household goods must be divided again.

What once began as a great love fest often ends in strife and sadness: in 2020, 149.000 marriages divorced, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office. By comparison, in the same year, more than 373.Marry 000 couples. If a separation occurs, those affected not only have to endure a lot emotionally, but also deal with economic issues. For what belonged to both must now be divided again.

Couples who have a prenuptial agreement that clearly regulates ownership are at an advantage. If this does not exist, the spouses live in a community of gains. This assumes that both share equally in the jointly generated and saved wealth. Thus, the gain is the increase in assets that accrues to both partners during the marriage. It is defined in the Civil Code in section 1373. The period "during marriage" refers to the time between the civil marriage and the day on which the divorce petition was served.

The assets that the partners had before the marriage do not play a role in the gain. If, for example, the wife brings an apartment into the marriage, it remains her property and does not automatically belong to the husband as well.

A calculation example

Assume that the husband has at the beginning of the marriage initial assets of 5000 euros, for example in securities. When the divorce petition is served, he has a final net worth of 50.000 euros because his shares have performed well and he has continued to put money aside. Then his gain amounts to 45.000 euros.

The wife has initial assets of 8000 euros and final assets of 80.000 euros because she earns better than her husband and was able to put more money aside. So your gain is 72.000 euros. If the wife has a gain of 72.000 euros and the husband has a gain of 45.000 euros, the difference is taken, so 27.000 euros, and divided by two. The man's compensation claim on the woman is therefore 13.500 euros she has to pay him.

Include in the gain, for example, some benefits from insurance policies, severance pay, or a lottery win – but not what one partner inherits from an outsider during the marriage. Because the subject is complicated, it makes sense to seek expert advice.

Work with an inventory

In addition to the assets, the household goods must also be divided. It is more difficult to divide: You can't just cut a washing machine. An inventory list can help here. Then behind each item is who brought it into the marriage – and that person gets to keep it even after divorce.

However, everything that both have acquired together must be shared fairly and according to the current value. If an inventory list for the entire household is too time-consuming for you, you can limit yourself to the expensive parts. If you can't agree among yourselves, the court decides who gets what.

What happens to the property?

It becomes particularly difficult in the case of a separation, if there is a common property. There are several possibilities here – but only if both partners are entered in the land register. If only one partner is registered, the apartment or house also belongs only to him or her. If both are registered, they can ..

  • under certain circumstances, reconstruct the property in such a way that there are two self-contained apartments. However, this will only work well in the case of an amicable separation.
  • sell the apartment or the house and share the profit.
  • transfer the property to one of the partners. The latter then pays the other.
  • the home ownership is transferred to a joint child.

If the couple does not come to an agreement, the property may have to be sold at auction.

Who gets the car after the divorce?

Even with a car, in a marriage there is the question of who owns it. In this case, it is not enough to look at the vehicle registration certificate or the insurance documents. What is relevant is who signed the purchase or loan contract. If the vehicle belongs to both partners, they can sell it and divide the sum received for it. Or you can agree that one of the partners will take over the car and pay the other one.

Under certain circumstances, the car may also be part of the household goods. This is the case if it was essentially used to do shopping, drive the children to school or to a club, or if the family used it to go on vacation. In this case, the car is divided with the other household goods. In case of doubt, the person who has to drive the children from A to B especially often in the future will get it.

The situation is similar with other expensive purchases such as a stove, a refrigerator or a washing machine: they often stay where the children are. Under certain circumstances, the partner who can continue to use it must pay compensation to the other person.

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