Separation year: How does the separation year work? + Questions & Answers

The year of separation – in every marriage there are crises. However, if these are insurmountable, it often comes to separation and the desire for divorce. However, before this can be made legally binding, the couple must go through a separation year. But why is this separation year needed at all and how does such a separation year actually work? Here are the most important basics, questions and answers.

Divorce with separation year

The separation year is intended to give spouses one last chance for reconciliation and enough time to think about this life-changing decision.

Benefits and key legal facts

The law provides many guidelines that couples must adhere to. These include, for example, the separation year that couples must go through before a divorce can be final. This topic raises many questions, such as:

  • How much does the divorce cost?
  • How soon can you file for divorce?
  • What all do you need for the divorce?
  • How quickly can you get a divorce?

So that you are prepared for the divorce and the separation year, we answer all the important questions for you!

Legal requirements – cooling-off period with fixed rules

Marriage and the family are regarded as one of the most important social institutions in the legal system. The separation year is therefore intended to act as a preventive measure against possibly wrong, purely emotional and only temporary decisions that could be regretted afterwards. Even if the separation year is seen by many married couples as harassment or pure burden, the intention behind the regulation is clear. The decision should be able to be reviewed and possibly revised in the given time. In addition, the time is useful to take care of some things that are important for the further course of the divorce, such as the divorce settlement agreement.

Although there is an obligation to prove that the separation year has been completed, it is not possible to apply to the court for the beginning of the year or to have it notarised. It therefore makes sense to record the beginning in writing. A shortening or even a complete omission of the separation year can only be brought about by a hardship decision of the court according to § 1565 paragraph 2. An example for such a decision can be extreme domestic violence, which the court classifies as undue hardship.

  • The separation year should be considered as a reflection period for the couple
  • Shortening of the year of separation shall be permitted only in special cases

Benefits – the advantages and disadvantages for married couples

The separation year should not only be used to review the right decision, but can also be used to arrange important things for the divorce. These things include, for example, the insurance or the divorce settlement. In particular, health insurance must be rewritten and amended, since spouses are usually insured together in a family insurance. However, joint rental agreements for real estate must also be amended and rewritten at an early stage. In addition, the joint bank accounts, if any, should be separated and joint financial obligations, such as credits and loans, should be dissolved.

Probably the most important, however, is the divorce settlement agreement. This can be determined by the spouses during the separation period in order to avoid costly negotiations before the family court. In this agreement, practical things such as the contact with the children, their maintenance and custody as well as the handling of property matters, the own maintenance and the fair division of the household goods are regulated. If the spouses are in agreement, this document will help with a quick and inexpensive divorce. The document must be notarised by a notary public and always be set down in writing in order to be valid in court.

  • The separation year can be used to clarify important matters for the divorce
  • A divorce settlement agreement can be drawn up by the couple to simplify the divorce process.

Reconciliation in the separation year – the legal framework conditions

The separation year primarily provides reflection time for both partners to think through the situation and the marriage from the bottom up and not make the decision to divorce thoughtlessly. Reconciliation during the separation year is therefore not uncommon, as the partners often find their way back to each other. However, such reconciliations are subject to legal frameworks to accurately determine the impact on the separation year.

Attempts at reconciliation – when is the separation year interrupted?

Attempts at reconciliation during the separation year are permitted by law, but are subject to certain guidelines. Attempts at reconciliation that are only short-lived and usually do not last longer than three months do not lead to an interruption of the separation year. The time during which the separation was interrupted therefore counts towards the 12 months of the separation year. For any attempts beyond three months, the family court will assume that the couple have reconnected. The couple also has the option of withdrawing the divorce petition themselves within this year. If the divorce is still to be carried out after this period, a new petition for divorce must be filed and the separation year starts all over again.

During the separation year, the partners should therefore think carefully about the reasons that led to the separation in the first place and whether a reconciliation is possible in their own interest or not. Both partners should therefore not rush the separation year and take things rather slowly. As nice as the idea of a reconciliation is, in some situations the relationship is simply too shattered for another attempt.

  • Attempts at reconciliation of about three months do not interrupt the separation year
  • In the separation year, attempts at reconciliation by partners should always be approached slowly

Questions & Answers

Especially in the case of contentious divorces, the legal situation is not always clear and there are many unanswered questions for the spouses. So that you know exactly about the regulations around the separation year, the most important questions.

Can you file for divorce before the separation year?

In principle, the divorce can only be filed after the separation year, because according to German law, the spouses must live at least one year apart before the divorce may be filed. Only in special exceptional cases, the divorce can be filed before.

Can the divorce be denied?

Divorce can be refused by the spouse in principle. However, this is not possible on a permanent basis, as a compulsory divorce can be decided by the court after three years at the latest.

Who pays the costs in a divorce?

The court determines the costs of the proceedings, including the lawyer’s fees. These are divided so that each party pays its own legal fees and half of the court costs.

How to shorten the separation year?

The separation year cannot generally be shortened. Shortening or omitting the separation year is generally only possible if there is evidence of hardship.

What all do you need for the divorce?

The following documents are always required for a divorce: Marriage certificate or family record book in the original or certified copy, the birth certificates of the minor children and possible marriage contracts and/or divorce settlement agreements.

How long does it take from divorce petition to divorce?

The length of the divorce usually depends on whether it is amicable or contested. Amicable divorces can take between one and six months, while contested divorces can take more than a year.

How much does a simple divorce cost?

The costs of a divorce are determined by the court and are based on the value of the proceedings. To calculate this value, the income and assets of the spouses are included.