Combining specialist legal knowledge with a wealth of experience, we advise and act on behalf of our clients in all areas of family law.
Whether it is the drafting of prenuptial agreements, partnership agreements or wills, advising spouses or civil partners in separation and divorce proceedings, or the provision of support with regard to the equalisation of accrued gains, property settlements and maintenance payments – we take your very personal concerns seriously. Based on proven specialist knowledge and a wealth of experience, and in close cooperation with our specialist lawyers for tax law and company law as well as our lawyers working in inheritance law, we guarantee competent legal and professional support.
Our goal is to achieve optimal conflict resolutions, whilst pacifying what mostly are tense situations. Accordingly, we encourage dialogue between parties and actively work towards out-of-court settlements that regulate all consequences resulting from a separation or divorce. Needless to say, we also represent our clients in court and, if necessary, will take action to protect their claims or to defend against unjustified claims by applying for an interim injunction.
Marriage Contracts, Partnership Agreements, Wills
Our advisory services encompass the comprehensive drafting of marriage contracts, partnership agreements and wills.
Marriage contracts typically contain the following key aspects: the property regime, the equalisation of pension entitlements (pension equalisation), and details concerning maintenance payments (maintenance law). We draft arrangements that ensure a financial settlement, provide for a fair division of assets and secure retirement provisions in the interests of our clients – all to avoid disputes in the event of a later separation or even divorce.
The drafting and development of partnership agreements and the preparation of custom-fit and effective wills are part of an overall settlement.
In the event that the failure of a marriage is determined by court, a divorce is possible. The same applies to registered civil partnerships. Our lawyers working in family law provide competent and committed support to our clients on issues related to divorce, such as the equalisation of accrued gains, separation maintenance, post-marital maintenance, child maintenance, pension equalisation, the division of household effects, assessment for income tax, control of the marital home, and parental rights and responsibilities.
The actual divorce proceedings are a simple matter. Provided that both spouses agree on the failure of the marriage, it is sufficient for them to observe one year of separation. In the proceedings before the family court at least one of the spouses must be represented by a lawyer. Much more complex is the regulation of the consequences resulting from a divorce, as already set out above. If this is done as part of the divorce proceedings, and not outside of them, the proceedings may well take several years.
For assets created during the marriage the consequences of divorce must be regulated for. This applies in particular to the self-employed, entrepreneurs and freelancers concerning their companies or company shares. However, account should be taken of the fact that asset transactions can well have an effect on separation-related financial claims and obligations. We advise our clients on the consequences resulting from separation and often can generate economic benefits in even complex asset situations. Likewise, we also counsel and support our clients with regard to the necessary arrangements for separation maintenance and post-marital maintenance as well as – in case there are joint children – child maintenance, and contact and custody rights.
Spousal Maintenance and Child Maintenance
We check whether there exists a claim for separation maintenance, post-marital maintenance or child maintenance and, if necessary, calculate it.
Separation maintenance is owed for a period of at least one year from the date of separation. This period can be considerably longer, such as when the marriage is not divorced immediately with or after expiry of the separation year, and especially when the divorce proceedings take longer. Separation maintenance – usually significantly higher than post-marital maintenance – effectively cannot be waived.
In certain cases, such as childcare, old age, illness, unemployment or top-up, post-marital maintenance is owed. The payment period may depend on the duration of the marriage. Consequently, it can be economically advantageous for both spouses to take action early, i.e. to assert a claim for maintenance or to file an application for divorce with the family court. The divorce petition can only be filed by a lawyer (divorce lawyer).
Child maintenance is provided by taking care of the child or by paying a set amount of cash maintenance. The amount of cash maintenance depends on the income of the parent liable to pay and is based on the so-called “Düsseldorf Table”.
Parental Rights and Responsibilities
In the event of separation or divorce, the contact of both parents with their children must be regulated. In certain cases, not only the right of access, but also the right of custody must be settled – as far as is possible by mutual agreement. We assist our clients to work out the best solution for their individual situation.
Separation and Divorce Settlement Agreement
In order to speed up the actual divorce proceedings, to avoid unnecessary disputes and conflicts, and in view of the accruing costs, it generally is advisable to settle the consequences of a separation or divorce, in particular the equalisation of accrued gains, by mutual agreement in advance outside the divorce proceedings. We can draft the necessary separation and divorce settlement agreement.
Equalisation of Accrued Gains and Division of Assets
As family lawyers we advise our clients on the equalisation of accrued gains and the division of assets. We calculate the equalisation of accrued gains where the statutory matrimonial property regime applies and counsel on claims relating to joint assets, such as real estate, savings and securities accounts, as well as other assets, including companies and company shareholdings.
Where the spouses have not agreed on a separation of property or community of property on the occasion of their marriage, or thereafter, the gains accrued during the marriage need to be equalised in the event of divorce of the marriage. For the calculation of the gain, the initial assets of each spouse on the day of marriage are compared to the respective final assets on the day of service of the divorce petition. In case one spouse does not know the asset situation of the other, or does not know it sufficiently well, he or she can assert a claim for information against the other spouse.
We calculate the difference between the spouses' gains for our clients and index the initial assets to establish and take into account the change in purchasing power. Where one or both spouses have received an inheritance or a gift during the marriage, the value of the inheritance or gift is not indexed. Instead, any increase in value thereof is indexed and taken into account when calculating the gain.
In the absence of other provisions in the marriage contract, the (increased) value (market value) of a business or company share is also part of the gain. Thus, even mere book profits increase the gain. In this context it is irrelevant for the compensation claim that the liquidity of the company or the shareholder may not be sufficient for the fulfilment of the claim and that the existence of the company may therefore be threatened.
A property settlement must often also be brought about outside of the equalisation of accrued gains. Such claims in ancillary property law result, for example, from spousal domestic partnerships and family law cooperation agreements.